Skip to main content

Full text of "Sermons on the Passion of Christ / by Martin Luther"

See other formats









Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1871, 

in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the 
Southern District of Ohio. 




Introductory Meditations. (Transl. by Prof. E. 
Smid ) „ 

First Passion Sermon. (Transl. by Rev. J T. Isensee.) 27 
The occurrences at ihe Mount of Olives. 

Second Passion-Sermon. (Translated by Rev. J. T. 

Iseusee.) 45 

The seizure of Christ in the Garden. 

Third Passion-Sermon (Translated by Rev. J. T. 

Isensee. ) Gl 

Christ refusing to be rescued by Peter's sword 

Fourth P\ssion-Sermon. (Translated by Rev. J. T. 

Iseusee.) ' 75 

The Lord.Jesusled to Annas and Caiaphas and tried 
by the Jews. 

Fifth Passion Sermon. (Translated by Rev. J. T. 

Isensee. ) 85 

Peter thrice denies the Lord Jesus in the house of 

Sixth Passton-Sermon. (Translated by Rev. J. T. 

Isensee.) 97 

Christ is delivered to Pilate.— Judas hangs himself. 
-The Potters Field. 

Seventh Passion-Sermon. (Translated Rev. by J. T. 

Isensee.) 117 

Christ accused before Pilate and condemned to 

Eighth Passion Sermon. (Translated by Rev. J. T. 

Isensee.) 129 

Explanation of several points in the history just 

Ninth Passion-Sermon. (Translated by Rev. J. T. 

Isensee.) 143 

Christ led away to be crucified. — Simon bears the 
Cross after Him. — The women who follow bew T ail 
and lament Him. 

Tenth Passion-Sermon. (Translated by Rev. J. T. 

Ispnsee.) 151' 

Christ nailed to the Cross.— His deeds, sufferings 
and w r ords on the Cross. 

Eleventh Passion- Sermon. (Translated by Rev. J. T. 

Isenaee.) 17(> 

Christ's Prayer on the Cross. — The Malefactor on 
the Right. 

Twelfth Passion-Sermon. (Translated by Rev. J. T. 

Isensee. i 103 

Christ commits His mother to the earn of John. 
The soldiers do not break tne legs of Christ, but 
with a spear pierce His side, from which blood and 
water flow. 

Thirteenth Passion-Sermon. (Translated by Rev. 

J. T. Isensee.) 213 

Christ's body taken down from the Cross and laid 
in a tomb. The soldiers guard the tomb. 



Mn this season of the year it is customary for the 
Church, both in her hymns and sermons, to 
dwell especially upon the passion of Christ. We also 
will follow this custom. Indeed, we consider it very 
appropriate that the narrative of the sufferings of 
our Lord should, at a certain fixed period of the 
year, be read in the churches to the people, word for 
word, from beginning to end, and that it be fully 
explained to them, so that they may understand its 
use, and derive from it much consolation. It is 
sadly evident with what effect the devil resists the 
Gospel, though it be preached daily, and how the 
hearts grow cold towards it, so that they do not 
amend, but rather grow worse from year to year. 
This distressing fact ought surely to prompt us to 
continue in the preaching of the Word, and espe- 
cially of that part of it which tells of the suffering 
and death of Christ. We must endeavor to have 
the people know and appreciate this part of the 
Gospel ; nor dare we be derelict in the performance 
of this duty. If we would neglect to preach on this 
subject one, two or three years, the people would 
surely forget it. Even we, who continually busy 
ourselves with the Word, experience a decrease of 
interest in it if we neglect the perusal of it for a day 
or two; how great then would be the injury to the 
people aj: large, if they should miss the preaching of 


these truths for a year or two? They would 
become as wild as beasts; therefore it is so urgent 
that we preach and teach the Word in season and 
out of season. The devil is ever active in resisting; 
the efficacy of the Word, else there would be many 
believers, and people would be converted; for sure- 
ly it is now preached often and clearly. 

For the Papists this week is one of torture; they 
sing and read and preach exceedingly much concern- 
ing the passion of Christ. But what does it avail 
them ? It is true, they speak of Christ's sufferings ; 
but in their heart there is no thought of them, or 
else they would not prize so highly their own self- 
inflicted penances and their own works. But it is 
not much better with us, who have the pure Gospel 
abundantly preached to us; our lives and deeds 
indicate that we also have disregarded it. The 
effects of the preaching of the Word are therefore 
not the same with all, inasmuch as not all are dis- 
posed to receive it. If we were to relate to the 
people some idle tales and stories, they would re- 
member them at once; whereas now, thousands 
upon thousands hear repeatedly the preaching of the 
Gospel without retaining it, and without profiting 
by its instructions. They come back from 
church just as they went there. They hear the 
Word, but disregard it as something common and 

There are some, on the other hand, who hear it 
gladly when they are told Christ rendered satisfac- 
tion for us, and that by our own merits and works 
we cannot obtain salvation, but that Christ alone 
has purchased it for us by His sufferings and death ; 
but as soon as they are told that to enjoy tke bene- 


fits of this atonement they must avoid avarice, 
worldly-mindedness, gluttony, self-esteem, &c, they 
are displeased and become enraged. They are un- 
willing to be rebuked on account of their sins, or 
to be regarded as Gentiles. Here, also, it is the 
devil who labors to make the Word of no effect, and 
we cannot expect any thing else but such aversioi 
to the application of the truth. It behooves us sv 
much the more, to continue steadfast in the Word, 
to the glory of God and to our own souls' salva- 
tion, that some may learn to love it, although many 
are indifferent, and that thus the sacrifice of the 
Son of God in our behalf may be known and re- 

The preaching of this truth began in Paradise, 
when it was said to Adam and Eve that the seed of 
the woman should crush the head of the serpent. 
The Church has retained the proclamation of this 
Gospel, and will retain it until the end of time. 
Nor can we perform any better service than to pro- 
claim everywhere, in the church, from the pulpit 
and at home, this fact of the sacrifice of God for the 
redemption of all mankind. 

As Israel was heavily burdened with the ceremo- 
nial law, and was compelled to sacrifice calves, heif- 
ers, &c, thus the papacy still conducts its divine 
worship. If we had to observe all those ceremonies 
and defray all the expenses incident to them, I fear 
there would be many complaints of insufferable 
burdens. But not much is required of us : only this 
pleasing service, that we should remember His 
boundless mercy, manifested in the sacrifice of His 
Son for our sins, and that we should preach this 
and teach it to our children. Let us thank God it 


we can enjoy such divine service, which surely will 
not be useless, but will rather bring forth glorious 
fruits and many blessings unto men. 

The Turks have lost this kind of worship ; they 
have forgotten Christ and substituted Mahomet in 
His place. The Jews have also rejected Him. Nor 
is it much better in Germany, where people have 
become weary of this worship and neglect it. But 
we may depend upon it that as soon as this true 
worship is lost, so soon will punishment follow. 
If we refuse to worship God, when we need only to 
hear a sermon which tells us of the suffering and 
death of Christ for us, w T e need look for nothing 
else but that, as a well merited penalty, another 
more severe, and withal an ineffective kind of 
worship will be imposed upon us. Therefore we 
ought to preach and hear, light willingly, of the 
passion of our Lord, so that we may never forget 
its blessings, even though Satan, the old enemy of 
truth, may busily attempt to resist and crush the 

But again, our own wants require that this be 
done. As long as we live in this world our flesh 
and blood will burden us, even as would the weight 
of a millstone. On every side we are subjected to 
temptations which take possession of our thoughts 
and time, so that we forget Christ and His suffer- 
ings ; earthly possessions, worldly honor, food, drink, 
carnal indulgences, misfortunes, sickness and 
adversity are all, more or less, apt to have such an 
effect upon us. Hence it is necessary to set apart 
an especial season for the. service of God. The 
devil is ever on the alert to insinuate all kinds of 
wickedness into our hearts, and would fain make 


them as cold as ice. Where God's Word is not re- 
peatedly proclaimed in sermons, in hymns, in private 
conversation, so that we may not forget it or 
become callous towards it, there it is impossible for 
our hearts, which are burdened with man}' an earth- 
ly pain and sorrow, with wicked purposes and the 
devil's malicious instigations, not to fail and to fall 
from Christ. Thus it is an urgent necessity that 
the preaching of the Gospel continue among us, 
that we may hear and retain it, otherwise we would 
soon forget our Lord. 

Xor should we overlook the wants of our young 
people, who need instruction so much; and many 
mechanics, laborers, and servants, who are Chris- 
tians by baptism, cannot even read. Much zeal and 
energy is needed, that these people may be taught 
that which they know not, but which is so im- 
portant to their welfare. God cannot be satisfied 
with us, if we disregard the precious treasure which 
He has given us ; if we, perhaps, hear the preaching 
of the Word and gape at it without learning any- 
thing. ]N"or will the devil desist from his attempts 
to cause us to do what is evil. If we will not hear, 
nor learn, nor remember the word of truth, we will 
be condemned to listen to and heed the falsehoods 
of the devil, unto our souls' eternal damnation. 
The Papists, the Turks, the Jews, and Anabaptists 
are examples of this. Let us, therefore, never grow 
weary of the proper worship of God; let us readily 
hear and heed the sermons preached on the passion 
of Christ. 

10 introductory meditations. 

The Benefits accruing from the Passion of Christ. 

Of these St. Paul in his Epistle to the Komans, 
o chap., thus writes : "But God commendeth His 
love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, 
Christ died for us. Much more then, being now 
justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath 
through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we 
were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, 
much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by 
His life. And not only so, but we also joy in God 
through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have 
now received the atonement." 

To preach the passion of Christ our Lord properly, 
it is not sufficient to read the narrative to the people, 
but we must add admonition and instruction,that they 
may realize and remember why Christ suffered thus, 
and in what way they are benefited by His passion. 
The method pursued by the Papists, especially by 
the monks, in presenting this truth, and which was 
only calculated to arouse the emotions of the people 
and to fill them with pit} 7 and lamentation, must be 
rejected as utterly useless. He who could stir up 
the emotions of people best was considered the most 
effective passion-preacher. Hence we find in those 
sermons principally railing against the Jews, de- 
scriptions of the lamentation of the Virgin Mary 
when she saw the death of her Son, and the like. 
All this, however, is nothing but hypocrisy, as real- 
ly all worship in the papacy is ; the true spirit of 
devotion is wanting, and there are no fruits of 
amendment there. If we attentively consider the 
preaching of the apostles and prophets, we shall 
find a totally different method of preaching on the 


passion of our Lord. They did not waste words on 
the simple story of the event, but presented it 
unadorned, pointedly and briefly. But of the 
meaning of this passion, and how it is effective for 
us if properly applied, — of this they spake repeated- 
ly and much. 

It was indeed a short sermon, if merely the words 
are counted, when John spake of Christ : "Behold 
the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the 
world ;" but if we carefully meditate upon these 
words, we will discover how much they contain for 
our edification and comfort, if we but receive them 
in true faith. 

John calls the Lord a "Lamb," because He was 
to be slain, even as a victim is slain. All the sacri- 
fices of heifers, oxen, calves and lambs, which took 
place under the Old Testament, were but types of 
that perfect and only efficient sacrifice, which Christ 
our Saviour offered to redeem the whole world 
through His own blood. To this the Evangelist re- 
fers in the above words, in which he dwells but 
incidentally upon the narrative of the passion itself. 
He calls Christ not merely a lamb, but "the Lamb 
of God," to express thereby the truth that God 
Himself had instituted this sacrifice, and would be 
well pleased with it. This expression, "Lamb of 
God," is farther intended to arouse our faith to accept 
such a sacrifice, which God in His infinite mercy and 
love has made for our salvation. Yea, by it we are 
to be convinced that because God Himself ordained 
this sacrifice, it is really perfect and all-sufficient to 
accomplish what these words say, namely, to take 
away the sin of the world. In this expression, 
"sin of the world," is included all impiety and in- 


justice which prevail in the world, and which cause 
the dreadful, but just wrath of God. Now all this 
wrong God has in mercy taken from the world, and 
has imposed it upon His Son, who paid our debt for 
us, that we might be exempt from fear and punish- 

We learn from this example how to preach 
rightly on the passion of Christ. We should not 
dwell chiefly upon the historical incidents counected 
with it, such as the betrayal, the scourging, the 
mockery, and the crucifixion of Christ; all this we 
ought to know and to preach ; but this is not the 
most important lesson of the passion of Christ. 
Abore all we must know and believe, as John 
preaches, that Christ suffered on account of our sins, 
which God cast upon Him, and which He bore in 
obedience to His Father's will and from love 
toward us. If we know this ; if we understand our 
sinful condition, which would have plunged us 
without escape into eternal damnation, had not 
Christ become our Saviour, we will duly appreciate 
the importance and value of the suffering of our 
Lord, and will be comforted thereby when fear of 
God's wrath, on account of our sins, would over- 
come us. Such a consideration of the passion of 
Christ will not only move our eyes to tears and our 
hearts to pity, as is the tendency of the popish ser- 
mons on this subject, but will prompt us to feel r 
deep down in our soul, sorrow at the terrible results 
of sin, for which no creature, but only the Son of 
God could make atonement by His sufferings and 
death; and likewise it will cause us great joy, 
because we will realize that this sacrifice was made 
for us, that God will now no longer reject nor con- 


demn us, as we have merited by our sins, but that 
He is now reconciled to us through the precious and 
vicarious death of His Son, who gave Himself as a 
victim in our behalf, so that our sins are now for- 
given and we are made heirs of eternal life. 

The Papists never preached thus of the passion of 
Christ They also used the words "Lamb of God" 
as applied to Christ who took away the sin of the 
world, but their whole worship was arranged as if 
each individual had to bear his own sin and must 
make atonement for it himself. How else can Ave 
understand the stringent regulation in the Bomish 
Church, especially in this season of the year, in re- 
gard to fastings, penances, self-inflicted tortures and 
other severe and burdensome works? Why were 
people so much in terror in regard to the minute, 
outward confession of their sins ? Why did they 
bury themselves day and night in the churches and 
chapels, engaging in song and prayers ? Was it not 
because they supposed that by such doings and ob- 
servances they could and must work out forgiveness 
of their sins ? Such doings mean in reality that we 
cannot rely, fully and solely, upon the sacrifice of 
Christ as all-sufficient and effective, and that we 
must with our own work complete the sacrifice and 
the atonement. 

This contradicts directly the statement of John 
the Baptist, yea of Christ Himself, when in John 
12. He thus speaks of His sufferings : "The hour is 
come that the Son of man should be glorified. 
Verily, Verily, I say unto you, except a corn of 
wheat fail into the ground and die, it abideth alone : 
but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." In these 
words Christ declares that His sufferings shall abound 


in much fruit. It would be erroneous to claim that 
flie Christian must first of all bring forth good 
works, even as the branch and the vine bringeth 
forth grapes; this would indeed be one of the fruits 
of union with Christ through faith, but the most 
important fruit is indicated in the words of the 
Lord Himself when He says: "And I, if I be lifted 
up from the earth, will draw all men unto me ;" that 
is, through me, through my sacrifice, through my 
death upon the cross, men must come to the Father 
and receive eternal life. They who rely on their 
own works, and desire by means of them to enter 
heaven, pervert the plan of salvation ; they draw 
Christ down to them, whereas the reverse should 
take place. Christ must draw us to Him, or every- 
thing is lost. He alone has vanquished the devil, 
paid the penalty of our sins, rescued us from the 
world and death, and brought us to life through His 
sufferings and death. To all this we contributed 

Again, John 3. chapter, Christ preaches of His 
passion in this wise: "And as Moses lifted up the 
serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of 
man be lifted up : that whosoever believeth in Him 
should not perish, but have eternal life." This is 
sufficiently plain. Whosoever desires to have eter- 
nal life, must obtain it through faith in Christ and 
His death upon the cross, wherewith He made pay- 
ment for our sins and redeemed us from death and 
hell. In the words just cited, Christ mentions no 
work of man as efficient unto justification; He says 
nothing of alms, fastings and the like. The re- 
quirement of deeds came already through Moses, 
and in the ten commandments God laid down the 


rules of conduct to be observed by us, aud whoso- 
ever disregards them may expect the wrath of God 
and His punishments. He, however, who keeps 
the law, and fulfills its demands as much as he can, 
does not on that account get to heaven. There was 
no other remedy for the Jews in the wilderness, 
when bitten by the fiery serpents, but to look up to 
the brazen serpent which God had ordered to be 
made. In like manner, as Christ indicates in this 
passage, there is no other way unto salvation but 
faithfully to look unto Him who sacrificed Himself, 
according to the will of God, for our sins, and 
through whom we now have pardon and eternal 
life. Such a glorious result has the death of Christ ; 
our works do not accomplish it, as the Papists 
falsely teach ; the} 7 have nothing to do with it. 

The prophets also frequently speak similar words. 
Thus Isaiah, 53. chapter, says: "Surely he hath 
borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows : yet we 
did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God and 
afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgres- 
sions, He was bruised for our iniquities : the chas- 
tisement of our peace was upon Him ; and with His 
stripes we are healed." Surely, this is a most 
charming and comfortable passion-sermon, yea no 
apostle in the New Testament could preach one to 
surpass it. The prophet declares that Christ shall 
be stricken, smitten and afflicted in our behalf, and 
also that the chastisement of our peace shall be 
upon Him, and that with His stripes we are to be 
healed. Isaiah calls the Lord a physician, and 
directs us to Him to be healed in our distress and 
sickness, so that we may obtain health and happi- 
ness. The Lord has a remedy for us which is not 


labeled good works, giving of alms, fastings and 
rosaries, but consists of the fact that He suffered 
and died for us, yea, that He bore our griefs and 
carried our sorrows. If therefore the history of the 
passion tells us how our blessed Lord and Saviour 
was tortured by the Jews and the Gentiles, we 
ought to be mindful that all this happened that we, 
even we, might have a cure, not from bodily in- 
firmities, but from a sickness more dreadful than 
all the rest, namely, from sin and eternal death. 
Thus the history of the passion will be applied by 
us properly and happily. It must, however, be 
borne in mind that the passion of Christ is in two 
ways a precious and sure remedy. It exhibits, in 
the first place, sin in all its ugliness and terror; no 
human being, not an angel, nor any other created 
being, had the power to take away sin ; the Son of 
God alone could do it, and He did carry this crush- 
ing weight for us. We should therefore carefully 
and earnestly endeavor to avoid sin, in the fear of 
God, for it is so very easy to fall into it, and so 
very difficult to get out of it again. In this endeav- 
or we will be mightily assisted by the consideration 
of the passion of Christ, which will prompt us, as a 
precious power against sin, to be pious and to shun 
evil, since it is such a terrible and dreadful burden, 
which no created being can remove, and which the 
Son of God had to carry for us. In the second 
place, we find in the passion of Christ a rescue from 
death ; for he who fully believes that the Son of 
God died for his sins and paid his debt before God, 
can have a peaceful heart and need not fear death, 
but will trust in the mercy of God and hope for 
eternal salvation. Of this consolation the prophet 


prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water. Turn 
you to -the stronghold ye prisoners of hope," &c. 
The pit, the prison-house of men, is sin and its 
punishments, namely, the tyranny of the devil and 
eternal death. From this pit we could not rescue 
ourselves unless by the help of God ; not through 
the blood of heifers and similar victims, but only 
through the blood of the just One, the King of 
Salvation. He who is not in the covenant of this 
blood must remain in the pit of sin and eternal 
death, while he who is enrolled in it through faith 
shall surely come out from this pit of wrath to the 
enjoyment of the mercy of God and unto eternal 

Daniel also preaches of this, in the 9. chapter: 
'^Seventy w^eeks are determined upon Thy people 
and upon Thy holy city, to finish the transgression, 
and to make an end of sin, and to make reconcilia- 
tion for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting right- 
eousness," &c. How this should be fulfilled in the 
death of Christ, the prophet soon after indicates. 
This is another clear and definite declaration of the 
truth, that forgiveness of sins and justification can 
be obtained only through the death of Jesus Christ; 
through it, if we accept it in faith, we have this 
precious treasure, and in no other way can we ob- 
tain it. Thus we can learn from John the Baptist, 
from Christ Himself, and from the prophets, how 
to preach of the passion of our Lord, namely, to 
instruct the hearts as to the mercy and grace of 
God, that they may be comforted thereby. Christ 
suffered for the payment of our sins, to reconcile us 
to God, and to save us through faith in Him as our 
Lord and Saviour. 


The holy Apostles preached the same truth con- 
cerning the passion of Christ, as we can easily read 
iu their narratives and writings. Of the many pas- 
sages bearing upon this point we will now, in con- 
clusion, notice but the one taken from Romans 5. 
chapter, as you, my beloved, have heard it in the 
beginning of this discourse. This passage is suffi- 
ciently plain, so that all can understand it. Never- 
theless we will now dwell upon it somewhat, to our 
instruction, edification and comfort. 

We all experience how deeply unbelief is rooted 
in our hearts, so that we are ever troubled by our 
sins, and lack all assurance and peace. We are so 
ready to exclaim : Ah, if we were only more pious, 
it would be better for us, and we could then hope- 
for the mercy of God. Where the heart thus wavers, 
there is surely trepidation and uneasiness. But it 
we firmly believe, and rely on the mercy of God, 
which He has promised in Christ, our hearts will 
be securely stayed in all adversities upon this con- 
solation, and will indeed be happy and of good 

People, however, are perverse in this. The Pope 
has therefore established all manner of worship, by 
means of which, as he pretends, confidence in God 
and reliance on His help can be gained. Some of 
these inventions are worship of the saints, pilgrim- 
ages, the purchase of indulgences, the mass, vigils,, 
monastic life, and other similar delusions. Such 
observances are regarded as guarantees of a renewed 
life and of heaven. This is indeed a deep-rooted 
delusion, and an earnest preacher of the truth will 
direct his efforts chiefly against it, to tear from the 


hearts of the people, by the grace of God, this 
wicked unbelief and to instill into them true confi- 
dence and faith. How to do this properly, and with 
success, St. Paul teaches us in the passage under 
consideration; and, surely, his testimony is of great 
weight, as of one who was a great preacher, chosen 
and called of God Himself as a giant in the work of 
spreading the Gospel. We ought, therefore, attent- 
ively to heed his words. 

He begins with the remark : "God commendeth 
his love toward us," which is indeed a peculiar and 
astonishing saying, bat nevertheless, as we shall 
presently hear, a remarkable, precious truth. God, 
it is true, is the declared enemy of sin, and will 
punish it, as the law demands and as our daily ex- 
perience proves. Again, it is true that we are all 
sinners, and this knowledge causes our unbelief of 
the mercy and love of God. When told, as in the 
passage before us, that God loves man, we think 
immediately of John the Baptist, of Peter, of Paul 
and others, who were so much more pious than we, 
and are ready to admit that God may love such as 
these, but we deny that we are such people as He 
can love, and therefore continue in fear of His 
wrath. Against this misconception the Apostle 
directs his words when he says that God doth not 
only love us, but. that He even commendeth His 
love toward us ; that is, God makes it so manifest, 
so sure and evident that He loves us, that no man 
can doubt it. What else but love could prompt 
Him to send His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, 
into this world, to die for us while we were yet 
sinners? When therefore sin and doubt torment 


us, and would rob us of confidence in God's mercy 
and pardon, let us firmly hold to the eternal truth 
of this word : "While we were yet sinners Christ 
died for us." Who is Christ? He is the Son of 
God. What does He do? He becomes man aod 
dies. Why does He die? On account of sinners. 
From this it clearly follows that God has not re- 
jected sinners, and that He desires not their destruc- 
tion, but that He loves them still, even so much 
that He rescues them from sin and death. For 
their sake His dear Son goes into death by the will 
of the Father. What better proof of His love could 
He have given ? Surely, St. Paul has good author- 
ity for exclaiming : "God commendeth His love 
toward us;" and it behooves us to confess the pre- 
cious, inexhaustible grace of God in Christ, and to 
believe that He is no longer wroth with us. Indeed, 
it would be utter madness to say that God will cast 
us away in anger, when it is evident that He gave 
His only begotten Son as a sacrifice for us wicked 
and forlorn men, that we might be redeemed, and 
have salvation evermore. 

These words of St. Paul agree fully with the say- 
ing of Christ, John 3: "For God so loved the 
world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that 
whosoever belie veth in Him should not perish, but 
have everlasting life." How can one, who knows 
and believes that God loves him, be afraid of Him ? 
For we all know what the character of love is. It 
is not contentious nor injurious, but trusts in Him, 
to whom it is directed, convinced that He will bring 
help and assistance. It is impossible to be other- 
wise. We should therefore cultivate this love, and 


fondly cherish it, nor permit any one or any thing 
to rob us of it. It is the devil's especial aim to 
persuade or force us from this conviction that God 
loves us ; he would fain have us tear God and regard 
Him as our deadly enemy. Where he succeeds in 
this attempt he has won the field. If we have lost 
our confidence in God, what then can defend or 
support us ? Let us therefore resolutely repel all 
such insinuations of the devil, of sin and our con- 
science, as if God did not love us, but let us firmly 
hold to the eternal truth and consolation that, as an 
assurance of His love, God sent His Son into this 
world to die for us sinners — to save us even while 
we were yet sinners. What else is this but a proof 
that God has thoughts of mere} 7 toward" sinners, 
that He loves them and would help them from their 
misery? This consolation we derive, as St. Paul 
here tells us, from the death and passion of Christ, 
and we should be comforted thereby. When the 
knowledge of our sins depresses us, when our heart 
would question the mercy and favor of God, we 
should be quick to conclude that He cannot be our 
enemy, since He gave us His only begotten Son as 
a Saviour. Hence we dare assuredly depend upon 
His mercy and help, and have no cause of fear or 

But perhaps you will say : we know well enough 
that God gave His Son into death in our behalf, 
yet we, on our part, have by many transgressions 
and sins proved ourselves totally unworthy of this 
His grace and mercy ; from which it follows that 
God has again become our enemy on account of our 
crimes, though He may formerly have loved us for 


His Son's sake. St. Paul tells us that such reason- 
ing is false, and that we should by no means give 
way to it, for he distinctly declares : "Christ died 
for us while we were yet sinners." Remember this, 
and be comforted by it. These words give us the 
explicit assurance, when our sins accuse us and 
threaten us with God's wrath and dire punishment, 
that Christ died for no other purpose than to 
save sinners, and for no other persons. If, therefore, 
we commit new sins, if our conscience accuses us, 
and if we have merited anew the vengeance of God, 
we ought ever to remember that Christ died for us 
as sinners, — for just such sinners as we are, and shall 
remain, though we may constantly exercise peni- 
tence and faith and new obedience with a good 
conscience. Yea, though we be ever so saintly, we 
will always need this consolation, that Christ died 
for us sinners, as St. Paul says : "Though I know 
of no sin, lam therefore not justified;" and the 
Psalmist, Psalm 143: "Enter not into judgment 
with Thy servant: for in Thy sight shall no man 
living be justified." It therefore remains a fixed 
fact, eternally unalterable, that the passion and 
death of Christ took place for our sin, no matter 
when committed, and while we were yet sinners, 
and that therefore we are freed from the 
wrath of God, that we have forgiveness, that the 
atonement is made once for all, and that we can 
now obtain eternal life. 

St. Paul continues : If God so loved us that He 
justified us through His blood, and if we earnestly 
believe that our sins are forgiven for His sake and 
that we are now pleasing in His sight, we ought to 


take comfort and rest assured that God will con- 
tinue to be merciful unto us, and will save us in the 
€nd in heaven. He not only sacrificed Himself for 
us, but His life and victory are ours also. 

The Apostle, when he spake these words, had in 
mind this severe tribulation, even of the pious, when 
they anxiously fear the wrath of God. He would 
fain give comfort by the assurance that God has 
averted His anger, aud has employed mercy and 
grace toward us, even while we were yet sinners. 
If He did this then, how much less will He be 
wroth with us now after the redemption from sins 
by the death of His Son ! This is surely a most 
effective sermon, preached against the unbelief 
which is so prone to nestle in our hearts. But Paul 
is not content with this assurance; he speaks of a 
still greater and more precious consolation to be 
derived from the death of Christ. He says : "For 
if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to 
God by the death of His Son, much more, being 
reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." Would 
to God that we might have this comfortable assur- 
ance firmly rooted in our hearts. It is indeed an 
inexpressible deed of mercy that Christ died for 
sinners; for by His death we are redeemed. If 
now His death benefits us so much, should we not 
also enjoy blessings from His life? If He died in 
our behalf, and if His death is our gain, we can un- 
hesitatingly rely upon it that His life now will also 
be of benefit unto us : He will keep us by His grace, 
and will defend us from the devil and the world, so 
that our faith may increase from day to day. Ac- 
cordingly we see, to our edification and consolation, 


the Apostles directing our attention repeatedly to 
the joyous resurrection of our Lord Jesus. He who 
thus liveth after He died for us, will surely attend 
to our wants now, and will protect us in the true 
faith against all temptation. The Apostle would 
therefore encourage us in these words against all 
doubts and weakness of faith ; he would tell us to- 
put aside all terror of the wrath of God and of death, 
since our Father in heaven has so clearly commended 
His love toward us in giving His Son for us into 
death while we were yet sinners. If He did not 
spare this His most precious gift while we were yet 
in sin, He will surely bestow all blessings upon us 
now, since we have been cleansed from sin by the 
death of Christ. 

Through Him and in His life we can have the 
power necessary to conquer death and hell ; there- 
fore we rejoice and trust in God, who loved us so 
exceedingly while we were yet sinners ; yea, we 
know that for the sake of Christ, His Son, He will 
support us in our tribulations, and grant unto us in 
the end eternal life. Such a faith, and such confi- 
dence, is the Christian's true worship ; we should 
therefore diligently seek it, pray for it, and retain 
it in our hearts, The Apostle Paul now concludes 
his exhortation to be of good cheer with these 
words : "We also joy in God through our Lord 
Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the 

He declares that we have received the atonement 
through Christ. We, on account of our sins, dared 
not hope for mercy from God. Now this is changed. 
Our sins are removed by the death of Christ, and 


we know that God no longer chicles with us ; He is 
our Friend, yea, our beloved Father. What then 
must be the result of such reconciliation? This,, 
that we rejoice at such a merciful and loving God — 
a God who is the source of all love, whom we 
should praise, and upon whom our whole confidence 
in every need and sorrow should be placed. If we 
have God for a friend we need fear no injury; 
nothing can then terrify or harm us. An atone- 
ment has been made for sin ; God is satisfied with 
us, and Christ our Mediator sits at the right hand 
of the Father. What matters it now if death does 
come and lay low our bodies, since we know that 
through Christ we shall rise again unto eternal 
life? Hence the Christians ought ever to rejoice,, 
no matter what their fortunes in life may be;, 
though pain may ahTiet their bodies, they can be 
glad in the spirit, and will praise their Father in 
heaven, upon whose love and mercy they depend r 
and under whose protection they are secure. Such 
a happy issue from ills we have through the atone- 
ment made by the death of Christ. 

Hence we see what a horrible crime it is for the 
Pope and his adherents to disregard this atonement, 
and to direct the people to do good works and to 
depend upon human exertions and deeds in obtain- 
ing mercy of God and forgiveness of sins. Let us 
thank God from the very bottom of our hearts that 
we have been set free from this bondage of error r 
and that we can learn from so many testimonies of 
the Old and of the New Testament how to regard 
and apply the passion of Christ, so that we are en- 
abled to sa} 7 , whenever sin accuses : If we were no 


sinners, Christ need not have suffered for us, but 
since He did suffer, we will derive all consolation 
from His passion. Thus will we honor God and 
give thanks unto Christ our Lord. We can make 
no other return but to accept with heartfelt grati- 
tude the precious gifts obtained by His passion and 

If we do this, it must follow, as a necessary con- 
sequence, that we shun and hate sin, that amid 
various trials, by constant practice, we increase 
from day to day in faith, in love, in hope, and in 
patience. May God bless us in this endeavor, 
through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen ! 


The Occurrences at the Mount of Olives. 

Matth. 26, 36-46 Then coraeth Jesus with them unto a place called 
Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and 
pray yonder. And He took with Him Peter and the two sons ot'Zebe- 
-dee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith He unto 
them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death : tarry ye here, 
■and watch with me. And He went a little further, and fell on His 
face, and prayed, saying, my Father, if it be possible, let this cup 
pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt. And 
He cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto 
Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and 
pray, that ye enter not into temptation : the spirit indeed is willing, 
but the flesh is weak. He went away again the second time, and 
prayed, saying, my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, 
•except I drink it, Thy will be done. And He came and found them 
asleep again - : l'or their eyes were heavy. And He left them, and went 
away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. 
Then cometh He to His disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, 
and take your rest : behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man 
is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going : behold, 
he is at hand that doth betray me. 

,his is a beautiful narrative, and presents the 
|true beginning of the sufferings of our Lord 
Jesus. It is profitable both for doctrine, showing 
how our Lord conducted Himself in His sufferings, 
and for consolation in the anguish of sin and an 
-evil conscience. 

The scholastics disputed much and diffusely about 
the events here narrated. It is, indeed, no trifling 
matter that such great fear, trembling and anguish 
should take possession of this person, who is, at 
the same time, eternal God and true man. But let 
men dispute about this as much as they will, and 
let them be ever so penetrating and subtile, it can 


never be fathomed ! Yea, it is impossible to com- 
prehend such grief and terror ; they are beyond the 
reach of our minds, and this simply because the 
person who sustains them is exalted far above all 
things. We must, therefore, be content with un- 
derstanding those inferior instances of sorrow or 
fear which we actually see. Such instances we 
have in the case of those poor wretches who are 
condemned to death for their crimes. Before these 
can become reconciled to their fate, they writhe in 
death's agony and struggle with death ; and, some- 
times, they cannot endure such anguish, and are 
even overwhelmed with fear, so that they can 
neither hear nor see, and do not understand what is 
spoken to them nor what they tell others, but are 
unconscious and even grow stiff, like one who 
knows neither where he is nor what ails him. 

But here we must rather consider those whose 
^rief and anguish are so intense, that they fear and 
tremble on their account; whose hearts are so 
pierced with wretchedness and terror that they 
would rather die than suffer them. Such excruci- 
ating pain is experienced by those hearts which 
wrestle with the fear of God's wrath or the violent 
onslaughts of despair. We may be assured that 
such great grief and terror assaulted our Lord on 
this occasion, so that He stood trembling and quak- 
ing before His disciples, who were affrighted and 
could not conceive what had befallen Him. This 
is beautifully indicated by Luke where he says that 
when the Lord "was come to His disciples, He 
found them sleeping for sorrow ;" and here by the 
Lord Himself in the words : "My soul is exceeding 

sorrowful, even unto death," that is, I am so full of 


anguish, that I could die of agony. Our thoughts 
cannot go beyond this ; for we know of no anguish 
that transcends such anguish unto death. But even 
the pangs of death cannot properly be compared 
with the agonv of the Lord Jesus; for His was of 
such exceeding violence that no human heart could 
have borne it. And for this very reason it declares 
Christ to have been true man, else it could not have 
affected Him, and true God, else He could not have 
borne and conquered it. Our flesh and blood can 
not endure and conquer thus; human nature, yea, 
even the nature of angels, is by far too feeble to 
hold out in such distress. For it was not the only 
sorrow of the Lord Jesus that the hour was now at 
hand, in which He should be betrayed by Judas, 
taken captive by the Jews, nailed to the cross by 
the Gentiles, and suffer death ; but that the sins of 
the whole world were upon Him, and that the 
death He was about to suffer was a death incurred 
by .sin and the wrath of God. Since He became a 
substitute for us all, and took upon Himself oui 
sins, that He might bear God's terrible wrath 
against sin and expiate our guilt, He necessarily 
felt the sin of the whole world, together with the 
entire wrath of God, and afterwards the agony of 
death on account of this sin. This is the point 
which makes it evident that we can neither ade- 
quately speak of such sufferings and anguish, 
nor even meditate upon them. While each of us 
has merely his own sins upon him, Christ alone 
bears the sins of all the world and must atone for 
them with His death. How very insignificant, 
therefore, the agony of all other men ! The sins 
committed by the whole world, from the first man, 


Adam, to the judgment-day, are placed upon that 
one man who was born ot the Virgin Mary, while 
our burden is so very trifling in comparison, and we 
still break down under it. 

But what is this sorrow, anguish and trembling 
of the Lord to teach us? What benefit are we to 
derive from His fear and lamentation, and from His 
public confession that His heart is so filled with 
misery that He would rather not live ? It was 
stated above that His being terrified at death should, 
teach us that He is a true, natural man, possessing* 
fiesh and blood like ours, and that He is altogether 
of like mind with us, but without sin. For it is an 
innate quality of our human nature to shudder at 
the thought of death. But it is impossible that 
any other mortal should be moved with fear as- 
great as that of the Lord Jesus, because upon Him 
rests the iniquity of all mankind, and because for 
this iniquity He must suffer the death which is 
merited by the sins of the whole human family. 
This, together with the fact that He really did bear 
this excessively great burden without succumbing* 
or perishing under it, proves most forcibly that He 
is also God, and more than a man. 

Therefore is this death-struggle a powerful weap- 
on which we wield against the heretics, who teach 
that Christ was not true God and true man. For 
we are compelled to confess that both natures of 
Christ here show themselves mightily; that, while 
His sorrow and fear and His w T restling with death 
are a potent declaration of His true, natural human- 
ity, His divine power is proclaimed by His submis- 
sion to the will of God, and by His conquering that 


agony which would have overpowered all men and 
all creatures. 

But this conflict with death, besides being useful 
for doctrine and the strengthening of our faith, can 
be profitably employed by us in two other ways. 
Sin has so blinded and corrupted us poor mortals 
that we cannot sufficiently discern our own imper- 
fections, else we would diligently guard against 
transgressions; for we perceive in ourselves and 
others that we regard sin as but a trifling injury, 
yea, more, that we delight in it. He who becomes 
enslaved to pernicious avarice does not hesitate to- 
take twelve or fourteen per cent., and would think 
himself very prosperous if he could obtain a great 
amount of such usury. Just so it is with him whom 
Satan makes a slave to debaucheiy ; such a one 
regards himself most fortunate when he can satisfy 
his sensual desire, and the gratification of his evil 
passions is his only ambition. This is the case too* 
with other sins; we rejoice over our imagined suc- 
cess in committing them. All this misery origin- 
ates in our not knowing what a dreadful calamity 
sin really is. If we could only comprehend the 
wrath of God which is revealed against sin, and His 
judgment which awaits it, we would no longer de- 
sire and love sin, but would fear it and flee from it 
as though it were sudden death. 

This picture of our clear Lord's agony at the 
mount of Olives serves to furnish us with such 
knowledge and fear. For if we look carefully on 
this picture we shall behold an image of sin, at sight 
of which our hearts must recoil with horror. Only 
look earnestly at the person pictured here ! He ia 
the Son of God, — the everlasting Righteousness I 


And although He assumed our flesh and blood, His 
flesh and blood is altogether sinless. Yet, since He 
took upon Himself foreign sin, namely that of all 
the world, in order to atone for it, this sin of others 
so affected Him, filled Him with such grief and an- 
guish, and so terrified Him, that He began to trem- 
ble and quake, confessing : "My soul is exceeding 
sorrowful, even unto death." 

Now if the sins of others are able to inflict such 
.agony upon this pious, innocent heart, what must 
not be the result if our own sins assail our naturally 
sinful and corrupt hearts, which are inclined to 
despair ! God sometimes gives us instances of this 
result, that we may be influenced by terror; in- 
stances, in which sin rages in the soul to such a 
degree, that the poor miserable wretches destroy 
their own lives in order to be quickly released from 
such racking of conscience. This is a certain sis'ii 
that such sufferings of conscience are more grievous 
and intolerable than bodily death, notwithstanding 
that the latter is most violently opposed to our 
nature ; for these wretched persons regard death as 
the means by which they can rid themselves of such 
sufferings. But it is a fatal means ; for it is against 
that commandment of God which tells us, "thou 
shalt not kill." These people, therefore, only make 
themselves more worthy of God's wrath and of 
damnation. The proper means, by which we can 
with certainty get rid of this anguish, we shall con- 
sider hereafter. 

Therefore, let us study this picture thoroughly, 
and not forget how our blessed Lord Jesus mourned 
and trembled at the mount of Olives. We should 
remember this especially when we are tempted by 


the devil, our own flesh and blood, 01 the wicked 
world, and when we perceive our great propensity 
to sin. Then let lis reason thus : if sin is so mighty 
that it can affect Jesus Christ, my Lord and God, 
with the greatest grief, though it be not His own 
sin, but entirely that of others ; how much more 
will it not tempt, grieve, terrify and oppress me, 
who am myself guilty of every sin to which I con- 
sented, and who can, at any rate, only with the 
greatest effort resist the fear of death and of the 
anger and judgment of God ! Therefore, get thee 
hence, Satan, I will not follow thee ! Thou makest 
it easy for me to sin, as though sin were a trifling 
matter ; but in my Lord Jesus I perceive that it is 
the most intolerable burden, because it so agitated 
His innocent heart. Therefore this narrative is of 
great value to us as an admonition to live in the 
fear of God and to sin no more. And most certain 
is it, if we bear this picture in mind, and, in accord- 
ance with it, persevere in prayer against tempta- 
tion, that God will mercifully assist us by His Holy 
Spirit, so that Satan must flee and our flesh be kept 
under restraint; while they who do not keep this 
picture in view are led and driven like haltered 
cattle whithersoever the devil will. 

Especially does the prayer Christ offered here 
serve as such an admonition. These were His 
words : "0 my Father, if it be possible, let this cup 
pass from me." Now it is evident that this was 
not possible; for it was necessary that He should 
offer up His body for the sins of the whole world, 
and die upon the cross. But what else is to be 
inferred from this, than that sin is such a great and 
terrible transgression that it was impossible for any 


creature to afford the least relief from its curse? 
But if we were to be delivered from this, it was 
necessary for the eternal Son of God to become 
man and to suffer death upon the cross for our sins; 
thus only could we become free from sin. 

Therefore, again from this should we learn to 
know and judge sin correctly. If we desire to obey 
our own hearts and the devil, and to follow the 
example even of the world, it will be very easy for 
us to commit adultery and fornication, and to seek 
to profit by covetousness, by the practice of usury, 
and by extortion. We see this in the case of those 
who fall into such temptations that they can never 
get enough of sinning. 0, do not serve your own 
heart, Satan and the world ; let not the smooth fur 
deceive you, for it surely covers sharp, poisonous 
claws, and should these seize you it is all over with 
you, unless God succor you in an extraordinary 
way ! For if sin could, in the manner we have 
related, assail and terrify Christ, who never was 
guilty of a single sin, what will become of you and 
me, whom sin has, at any rate, previously so cor- 
rupted that we can not do otherwise than fear, 
tremble and despair and fly from God, as did Adam 
and Eve in Paradise ! Therefore, let us be on our 
guard, and not run wantonly into such danger. 
Let us ask God for His Holy Spirit, that He may 
assist us, — that we may by His help defend our- 
selves against sin. If we do this, we shall be indeed 
the better for the scene at the mount of Olives. 

Let us proceed. Even as this scene has been 
employed by us as an admonition to fear God and 
to guard against sin, so does it serve, in the second 


place, for our consolation. No man is able so care- 
fully to govern himself that his flesh and Satan will 
not succeed sometimes to mislead him with their 
clamor, so that he makes a mistake and falls into 
sin. And Satan incessantly prowls around the 
Christian for the special purpose of leading him 
into public offences, as we can see in the case of 
illustrious saints. How deeply David fell! And 
Peter the same! Now if this should happen to us 
also, and Satan should then come and harass our 
hearts by his representations of our sin, then we 
should again behold this picture of the mount of 
Olives, and turn our thoughts inward and say : O 
God, why is it that Jesus Christ, my Lord, Thy 
Son, trembles so ? What is it that troubles Him ? 
He prays that the cup might pass from Him. What 
is this cup ? It is the bitter death upon the cross 
and nothing else. But why does He suffer this 
death, 'being without sin, holy and righteous? Alas, 
this is brought about by the sin of the world, which 
God has placed upon Him ; this it is that oppresses 
and alarms Him ! 

But how must I apply this ? what must I con- 
template here? This will I consider here, and 
believe that it is true : if God has placed my sin 
upon Him, then am I most certainly released from 
sin ; and because this is so, John the Baptist calls 
Him "The Lamb of God which taketh away the sin 
of the world." What accusation could I now 
bring against myself and my dear Lord Jesus? 
True, I am a sinner ; I experience, alas ! that my 
sins alarm me and that they always try to make me 
sad ; I am afraid of God and His severe judgment. 
Nevertheless, of what could I accuse myself; and 


how could I censure my clear Lord Jesus? He 
trembles at the mouut of Olives, and feels such 
anguish that His sweat is as it were great drops of 
blood ; my sins, which He has taken upon Himself, 
and whose heavy burden He has borne, have brought 
Him to this. Therefore, I shall leave them there, 
and firmly hope that when I shall appear before 
God aud His judgment, God shall find no sin in 
me. Not as though I were pious and had com- 
mitted no sin, but that God Himself has taken 
away from me my iniquity and laid it on His Son. 

Thus the scene at the mount of Olives also serves 
for our consolation ; it assures us that Christ has 
taken our sins upon Himself and rendered satisfac- 
tion for them. For how could we otherwise account 
for such fear and trembling ? If our sins, therefore, 
rest upon Christ, we can be content ; they are in the 
right place, — just where they belong. Upon us 
they do not lie well; for we and all men, yea and 
all creatures, are too weak to bear a single sin: it 
would crush us with its weight. Therefore, let 
them remain upon Christ, and see what happens 
Him on their account. He takes them to the cross 
with Him and even dies in consequence of them ; 
but on the third day He appears as the Lord of sin, 
death and the devil ; for they attacked Him with 
all their powers, but accomplished nothing. Now 
this should be our comfort, and we should thank 
God for the unspeakable grace, by which He re- 
moved from us the heavy burden which would have 
hurled us into the abyss of hell, and placed it upon 
His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who, although He 

was sinless and God eternal, still toiled and drudged 


under it at the mount of Olives, until the bloody 
sweat flowed gently from Him. To this comfort 
let us cleave, and not permit sadness to oppress our 
hearts, hut say : it is sufficient that my Lord Jesus 
mourned and trembled so ; my lamentations can 
accomplish nothing. But if I make His agony my 
comfort, and on it base my hopes in life and death, 
then has He so labored for me with His griefs and 
fears that I must in future be joyful in Him and of 
good cheer, and not fear sin and death, but hope 
for God's grace and eternal life. Such exercise of 
faith and comfort in Christ is the true worship of 
God, pleasing unto Him ; and since this exercise is 
the only means, by which we can worship God 
truly, poor, troubled consciences should make use 
of it whenever the burden of sin tortures and alarms 
the heart. Otherwise it is impossible to find any 
true, certain consolation in such misery 

But this history of the scene at the mount of 
Olives is also of use to us in teaching us, by Christ's 
example, how to conduct ourselves in times of fear, 
temptation and distress. The hour was now at 
hand when Judas should betray, the Jews capture, 
and the Gentiles crucify Christ. What does He 
do ? He is "exceeding sorrowful" and full of fear. 
But this is not all. "He went a little further, and 
fell on His face, and prayed." We too must learn 
this ; we dare not let trouble so affect us that we 
forget to pray. For it is also a necessary part of 
divine worship and pleasing to God, not to despair 
in anguish and distress, but, when these attack us, 
to lift up our hearts to Him, and seek His help. 
The 91. Psalm testifies to this, where God says : 
"He shall call upon me, and I will answer him ; I 


will be with him in trouble ; I will deliver him, and 
honor him." But this is very difficult for us ; for 
we imagine, when God suffers anxiety and distress 
to come upon us, that He is angry with us and is 
our enemy; and, therefore, even if we do pray, we 
think that our pra} T ers are vain and useless. But 
against this we can employ the comfort of Christ's 
agony, and thus drive back such thoughts. For if 
God were always angry when He suffers pains and 
distresses to come upon us, it would follow that He 
was angry with His dear Son. But the reverse is 
the case, as Solomon also says, namely, that the 
father scourgeth every son whom he receiveth, and 
whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth. There'fore, 
let no such thoughts deceive us ; let us not regard 
God as an enemy because He permits us to suffer. 
We see here that He does not exempt His only 
begotten Son from suffering, but permits Him to 
feel sin and the agony of death, and to fear and 
tremble on their account. We should believe that 
God deals with us in the same way ; that we are 
His children and that He desires to remain our 
Father, notwithstanding that He lets us suffer a 
little. For why would we be spared all those 
things, from which He did not exempt even His 
Only Begotten, whom He permitted to suffer that 
agony for us which we would have had to suffer 
forever in hell? Therefore, let us still follow Christ, 
and as we endure fear and distress with Him, even 
so let us learn to pray with Him, and doubt not 
that God will graciously hear our prayers ! 

And how did Christ pray ? The prayer itself is 
a very useful and necessary pattern, which we 
should imitate, and never leave, out of sight. He 


prays : "0 my Father, if it be possible, let this cup 
pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as 
Thou wilt." This petition He repeats three times, 
until finally, as Luke says, "there appeared an angel 
unto Him from heaven, strengthening Him." 

Now this is the model prayer which we too 
should use in temptation and trouble. "0 my 
Father," He prays, as though He would say : 
although my present anguish and alarm are so 
great that they make me exceeding sorrowful, even 
unto death, and that I see nothing before me but 
Thy terrible wrath, and death ; still I do not doubt 
that Thou art my Father, that Thou dost love me, 
that Thou dost behold me and care for me. There- 
fore, I hope to be released from this agony. "If it 
be possible, let this cup pass from me;" that is, 
help me, and save me from these sufferings. 

Even as Christ calls upon God, His Father, so 
must we also do. For, although He alone is the 
eternal Son of God, according to the 2. Psalm : 
"Thou art my Son ; this day have I begotten Thee," 
yet we too are children and heirs of God by faith 
in Christ Jesus. "We should, therefore, not merely 
utter these words in our prayers, but be fully con- 
fident that God, as our Father, desires our welfare, 
and will not forsake us, His children. For where 
such trust is wanting, there can be no sincere 
prayer, and there surely the thought is entertained 
that God is not our Father, that He does not want 
us, and that He is not concerned about us. But 
this is dishonoring God and robbing Him of His 
right name, "Father." 


But let us learn still another lesson. Our dear 
Lord Jesus prays that His Father would let this 
cup pass from Him, and, as the true only begotten 
Son, He expects everything good of His Father. 
Yet He adds these words : "Nevertheless, not as I 
will, but as Thou wilt.' 7 Let us do the same. Let 
us not on account of temptation and affliction think 
that God is angry with us ; but turn to Him as the 
child turns to its father ; for, because we believe in 
Christ, God will accept us as sons and as joint heirs 
with Christ; and let us call upon Him for help, 
saying: blessed heavenly Father, see how hard 
it goes with me in this or that respect, — help, for 
the sake of Thy dear Son, Jesus Christ, — suffer me 
not to remaiu in this distress or to sink under it, 
and so on. With this God is well pleased. And it 
is His desire that we all, in every need, have such 
confidence in Him, in and through Christ ; that we, 
firmly relying upon Him as our dear Father, call 
upon Him ; and that we do not doubt at all that 
He, for Christ's sake, will not only be merciful to 
us as His dear children, but also heartily sympathize 
with us and therefore willingly help us. Still we 
must humble ourselves, and not insist upon havings 
our will, but submit it to the will of God whether 
we shall still continue in misery ; and, if this is His 
will, show our obedience by patiently bearing such 
a delay of deliverance, as we can see that Christ 
here did. 

But the question might here occur to us : why 
does Christ here pray thus, while in His prayer in 
the 17. chap, of John He does not use a single 
word which implies that He commits the decision, 
whether He shall obtain His request or not, to the 


will of God ? There He says : "Father, the hour is 
come; glorify Thy Son. Father, glorify Thou 
me. Keep through Thine own name those whom 
Thou hast given me. I pray that Thou shouldest 
keep them from the evil. Sanctify them through 
Thy truth." Also : "Father, I will that they also, 
whom Thou hast given me, be with me where I 
am," &c. This entire prayer shows that He will 
have His request granted and not denied. But why 
does He not pray in the same way here? Answer: 
the want, for which the Lord prays here, is a tem- 
poral, bodily want. Now we must, in all things 
pertaining to this bodily life, submit our will to 
that of God ; for, as Paul says, "we know not what 
we should pray for." It is, besides, often necessary 
for us that God should leave us under the cross 
and in distress. Since God alone knows what is 
good for us, we should prefer His will and renounce 
our own, rendering obedience with patience. 

When, however, bodily affairs are not the subject 
of our prayer, but eternal blessings, God's will is 
manifest and unalterable ; it is His will that all men 
should be saved, that they should acknowledge their 
sin and believe in its forgiveness through Christ. 
Such eternal blessings we receive when God pardons 
our iniquity, upholds us by His Word, sanctifies us, 
and gives us the Holy Spirit and everlasting life ; 
and such blessings as these it is that Christ implores 
for the Christian Church in John 17. Therefore, 
when praying for such heavenly, eternal gifts, it is 
not necessary to commit it to God's will, whether 
He will hear us or not. We should know that He 
will give us these things willingly and most cer- 
tainly ; for we have His Word which declares to us 


His will in this respect. "God so loved the world," 
Christ tells us, "that He gave His only begotten 
Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not 
perish, but have everlasting life." Behold, here we 
have God's will with reference to our salvation. 
Boldly, therefore, let us pray in accordance with 
this will, just as Christ, John 17., prays: "Father, 
I will that they be where I am !" Be this also our 
prayer : Father, I pray and I will have it so, that 
Thou forgive my sins for the sake of Thy Son, 
Jesus Christ, who has expiated their guilt, having 
made an atonement for them by His death ! 

In this way, however, we cannot perceive God's 
will in regard to bodily temptation and distress. 
We do not know whether it would contribute to 
our salvation and to the honor of God, if He should, 
according to our desire, quickly release us from 
sickness, poverty or other troubles. We should, 
therefore, pray for help indeed ; but submit it to 
the will of God whether we shall be helped soon or 
shall continue in our affliction. And should God 
not relieve us immediately, and in the manner we 
wish, our prayer shall still not be useless, but God 
shall strengthen our hearts and impart to us grace 
and patience, so that we can bear our affliction and 
triumph in the end. The example here of Christ 
proves this ; God, His Father, would not let the 
cup pass from Him; still He sent Him an angel who 
strengthened Him. So it shall be with us too, even 
if God should delay or refuse His help. But in 
regard to spiritual wants we are certain of being 
heard : God will, for Christ's sake, cheerfully for- 
give our sins and save our souls; therefore, we can 


pray for this with sure confidence, and it were a 
sin to donbt it. 

This is the third lesson, about prayer in tempta- 
tion. But we are very slow at learning it, as the 
example before us of the disciples plainly shows. 
Temptation was in store for them too, and, there- 
fore, the Lord admonishes them to pray, so that 
they might not enter into temptation. For in such 
a case prayer is the only and the best preventive 
and remedy. But the flesh is so weak and slug- 
gish, that when the danger is greatest and prayers 
are most needed we slumber and sleep; that is, 
anguish overtakes us and molests us so severely, 
that we think all opposition is vain and useless. 
Temptation or the fall is the result of this, as it was 
in the case of the disciples. But our gracious and 
compassionate God, who has promised us assistance 
and mercy through His Son Jesus Christ, pardons 
this weakness and rescues us from temptation, if 
we heed His admonition, again to seek consolation 
and help with Him. 

This, then, is the history of the agony at the 
mount of Olives, which should be diligently con- 
sidered and properly applied. This is done when 
we, in the first place, learn from it how very heavy 
a burden sin must be, since it so oppressed and 
tortured the Son of God that He trembled, and that 
great drops of blood fell from Him to the ground, 
and when we, therefore, look well to ourselves and 
flee from sin. 

This is done when we, secondly, draw consolation 
from this history in those times of distress and 


temptation which cannot fail to come upon as too ; 
we see how the Son of God bore our sins. 

We make the right use of this history when we, 
in the third place, continue instant in prayer, in 
every temptation, according to Christ's command : 
"Watch and pray, that ye enter not into tempta- 

He who thus employs the occurrences at the 
mount of Olives, shall remain in the fear of Grod 
and in true faith, and shall find comfort and deliv- 
erance in all manner of dangers and temptations. 
Ma} r our blessed Lord Jesus grant this to us all 
through His Holy Spirit. Amen. 


The Seizure of Christ in the Garden. 

Matt. 26, 47-50. And while He yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the 
twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, 
from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he that betrayed 
Him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is 
He ; hold Him fast. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, 
Master ; and kissed Him. And Jesus said unto him, Friend, where- 
fore art thou come ? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and 
took Him. 

^Ijlshis is the second part of the history of the 
SiHU events which took place in the garden. Here 
"we are told, in the first place, how Judas, one of the 
twelve, after he had conferred with the Jews on the 
subject, and sold the Lord Jesus for thirty pieces of 
silver, (each of which, according to our coin, is 
worth about half of a florin), finally also betrayed 
Him in the garden. 

This was a very wicked and scandalous deed, 
and it is, even at this day, so offensive to many 
wise and sensible people that, on account of it, they 
speak evil of the Gospel, and consider its doctrine 
injurious. For, since Satan keeps no holiday, but 
•chiefly sows his tares among the wheat where he 
sees the good seed coming forth hopefully, it is no 
wonder that among those who possess God's pure 
\Yord there are found so many disciples of Judas, 
that is, knaves and infidels. 

When the world sees such deeds it quickly passes 
judgment upon them. Thus we are often com- 
pelled to hear how our adversaries of the present 
day lay all the blame for such offences upon the 


doctrine, and say : If the doctrine were correct it 
would also produce good fruit, but since there are 
so many more offences in the world now than there 
were formerly, it must follow that the doctrine is 


True, the Insurrection of the Peasants, in the 
year 1525, occurred after the Gospel had been 
brought to light. Then followed the Sacrament- 
arians, Anabaptists, and other sects, the like of 
which no one heard nor saw before the Gospel 
came to us. But does it, therefore, follow that the 
doctrine is bad, and that such offences were pro- 
duced by the doctrine? We shall find the answer 
to this if we examine that villain, Judas, who was 
neither Gentile nor Turk ; neither was he a Jew of 
that kind which offered resistance to Christ and 
paid no attention to the "Word of God. Matthew 
says that he was "one of the twelve," whom Christ 
had called to preach, to baptize in His name, to 
cast out devils, and to perform all manner of glorious 
miracles. And since the Lord knew his knavery 
from the beginning, there is no doubt that He 
instructed Judas more than the rest, always admon- 
ishing him not to give place to sin and temptation. 
In connection with the Holy Supper the Evangelists 
specially mention that the Lord would every now 
and then let fly a word or two at him, if, peradven- 
ture, he might be turned from his sin. And, 
finally, He gave him a sop, no doubt casting upon 
him a longing look, as though He would say : 0, 
thou poor fellow, how canst thou be my enemy? 
What cause do I give thee for intending such 
things against me ? 


But since nothing could prevail with him, and 
since he gave place to temptation and even yielded 
to it, the Lord said unto him : "That thou doest, do 
quickly ;" as if He wanted to say : I see well 
enough that all warnings and admonitions are in 
vain ; go, then ; there is no help for thee. 

Now what shall we say to this, that the desperate 
villain commits such a hideous sin, and harbors 
such malice and bitterness against his Lord and 
Master, in whose name he also had performed 
miracles, that, for the sake of a trifling sum of 
money, he betrays and sells the innocent, pious r 
gracious and gentle Lord and Saviour, well know- 
ing that it would cost His life? Whom shall we 
blame for this? Here we read that he was one of 
the twelve. Shall we, therefore, say that the Lord 
Jesus and the doctrine which Judas heard of Christ 
arc to blame? If Christ had taught him better 
tilings, would he have done them? But supposing 
that this thought did occur to you, would you not 
shudder at it, and fear so to accuse the Lord Jesus? 
For you know that He is holy and righteous, and 
the enemy of every vice ; yea, that the object of all 
His teaching and preaching was to check and ward 
off" sin and save from death. Why, then, would 
you impute such crime to our dear Lord ? You 
should rather say : If Judas had not been such a 
scandalous, wicked villain that every friendly warn- 
ing was thrown away upon him, and could not free 
him from his malice, he would have behaved himself 
differently; for, although the other Apostles were 
so very weak that they were offended because of 
the Lord Jesus, they still do not fall into sin so* 


monstrous as that of Judas, who must, therefore, 
have been such an arrant knave that nothing could 
save him. 

Why then do you not pass the same judgment 
upon similar cases which occur at present ? Why 
do you blame and blaspheme the Holy Gospel for 
that which wicked men and Satan have committed? 
For if Christ Himself cannot preach with such 
earnestness and power that Judas ceases to be a 
scoundrel, as he was from the beginning, it is no 
wonder that the like is seen among us also, and that 
not all obey the Word. 

The Peasants' War, as stated before, followed 
after God had restored the Gospel to us ; we have 
no desire to deny this. But must the Gospel, 
therefore, be reproached for this offence and mis- 
chief? Were there not insurrections and offences 
in the world before the Gospel was preached ? We 
should rather argue as follows : Satan hates the 
Gospel ; men are by nature corrupt and inclined to 
evil; therefore, Satan and the evil world have 
caused these offences, so that the good seed, which 
is the pure, wholesome doctrine, might be despised 
by men. 

Thus originated the Sacrameutarians and Ana- 
baptists also, of whom no one heard before the 
coming of the Gospel. But the Gospel is not to 
blame. The devil, and then the temerity of idle 
and frivolous hearts which do not hold fast the 
Word, but follow their own wisdom, whistled for 
this jig, and prepared this terrible evil and such 
pernicious scandal. 

Even at this day, as we see, this scandal prevails, 
that avarice and usury, lasciviousness and gluttony, 


and other vices are more common among those who 
boast of the Gospel than they were formerly under 
the papacy. Whence comes this filth ? Is it learned 
from the Gospel? Are the preachers to blame? 
No, such thoughts be far from us ! That would be 
abusing and calumniating God and His dear Word, 
and the Gospel ministry which is God's most 
precious gift. But we must blame the very devil, 
who is chagrined when he sees the field well pre- 
pared and sowed with good seed ; for this admira- 
bly impairs his kingdom. Therefore, while the 
house-holder sleeps, he comes with his seed of 
wickedness, and scatters tares over the whole field. 

But thus he does not bring it about that the tares 
alone grow. For even as Judas, one of the twelve, 
was a rascal, while the other disciples, notwith- 
standing their frailty, did not fall into such shock- 
ing sin ; so, while many and very common offences 
exist, we also find many noble, pious Christians, 
who abide in the Word in all sincerity, live in the 
fear of God and guard against offences. We 
should be satisfied with this and thank God for 
it. And since we cannot get rid of this Judas, we 
shall have to tolerate him, still remembering that 
not all are like him, but that some of the disciples 
turned out better. 

The instance of the spoiled child, Judas, teaches 
us, first, that we must not revile the Gospel like 
the Papists, but recognize the true cause of offences 
in the devil and in those disobedient hearts which 
believe not the Word and will not be bettered by 
the Word. 

Secondly, it teaches us, by that dreadful fall, to 
fear God. For, as was said above, Judas was no 


common person, but an Apostle, and, doubtless, 
possessed many noble, excellent gifts ; this is indi- 
cated by his having a special office among the 
disciples, the Lord having appointed him house- 
holder, or steward. 

Now this Judas, who was an Apostle, who in 
Jesus' name preached repentance and remission of 
sins, who baptized, cast out devils, and did other 
miracles, apostatized most shamefully from God 
and became the enemy of Christ, whom, for a little 
silver, he sold, betrayed and delivered over to be 
slaughtered. And since such a terrible misfortune 
befell so great a man as Judas, we surely have reason 
never to feel secure, but to fear God, to beware of 
sin, and, without ceasing, to pray that God would 
not lead us into temptation, -but that when tempta- 
tion comes upon us He would mercifully sustain us, 
deliver us from it, and not suffer us to stick fast in 
it. For unless the greatest caution is exercised and 
the weapon of prayer is diligently used, it is a very 
easy matter to fall and commit sin. 

The case of Judas stands thus. He was an 
avaricious fellow ; the Evangelists mention several 
times that he was in the habit of stealing from the 
treasury, which, according to the Lord's appoint- 
ment, was in his care. He gave the reins to this 
sin and became addicted to it. He permitted men 
to talk and to preach to him, as, alas ! some of the 
miserable, provoking Christians of our day let them- 
selves be talked and preached to ; but went never- 
theless and stole wherever he could, and thought 
himself in no danger because he was an Apostle as 
well as the rest. 


Because he thus gave place to sin, his carnal 
security finally brought him so far that the devil 
entered into him quite, and urged him on to the 
attainment of his outrageous purpose of betraying 
his dear Lord and Master for fifteen florins. Since 
the devil was thus successful in leading Judas to 
this act of treachery, the greater wretchedness fol- 
lowed that Judas fell into despair and hanged him- 
self on account of such sin. This is the end the 
devil had in view. 

Now we should diligently observe this case of 
Judas and, as already stated, be admonished by it 
to keep a clear conscience ; to live in the true fear 
of God ; and not to cease praying that God would 
uphold us by His Word, rule us by His Holy Spirit, 
and keep us from sin. For if we make a mistake 
in an apparently trifling matter even, unspeakably 
great misery may ensue. Our dear Lord Jesus, in 
the 11. chapter of Lake, warns us against this, say- 
ing : "When the unclean spirit is gone out of a 
man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest ; 
and finding none he saith, I will return unto my 
house whence I came out. And when he cometh, 
he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, 
and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked 
than himself; and they enter in and dwell there ; 
and the last state of that man is worse than the 
first." We have instances of this before us. Before 
the blessed Gospel came to light again, the devil 
enjoyed perfect tranquility ; he had ensnared uearly 
every heart by a spurious worship and by reliance 
on good works. But God has now banished him 
by the Gospel, that we might know that God is not 
served and that we are not benefited by the celebra- 


tion of masses, by vigils, pilgrimages and monkery. 
God's Word has taught us a different form of wor- 
ship, which the 2. Ps. calls "kissing the Son ;" and 
God from heaven declared it "hearing: and believing 
in His Son." This we know. 

Let us see what takes place now. The devil 
would gladly come back to his old home; but he 
can not, for he finds the entrance blocked up and 
himself exposed by the light of God's Word. "Then 
goeth he and taketh to him seven," that is, in- 
numerable, "other spirits more wicked than him- 
self; and they enter in and dwell there." We see 
that most men are under the impression that they 
can lead a lewd life, practice covetousness und 
usury, lie and deceive, and still be in no danger, and 
be good Christians all the while. Wherever there 
is a hole left open for the devil, even if we would 
think it too small for him to peep through, it is 
large enough for him to stick his head in and drag 
his whole body after. In this way he entered into 
Judas too. We might think his stealing ten or 
twenty dollars a very little matter; but because he 
continually haukered after the pleasures of this sin, 
and did not suffer God's Word to restrain him, the 
devil finally prevails on him, for the sake of money, 
to lead his blessed Lord and Master like an ox to 
the slaughter. 

Hence the warning : Fear God and shun sin. 
But if you will continue in sin, you may look out 
for the danger, to which you thus expose yourself; 
for the devil does not go to work with the intention 
of conferring favors on you. He prompted Judas 
to avarice until he led him through despair to the 
gallows. Let this be vour warning, and desist in 



time ! Earnestly beseech God that He would, for 
Christ's sake, not impute to you your iniquity, and 
then reform ! This is the will of God. He per- 
mitted this dreadful example of Judas to be given 
that we might study it and recoil from it. For 
who would have thought that such a terrible sin 
could have such an insignificant beginning ! 0, do 
not make light of this ; do not think in your heart : 
I can do so and so, and still be a Christian, — I will 
make amends some day, &c. The devil is too cun- 
ning for you ; when he has once spun his web about 
you, it will not be easy for you to tear yourself 

So much for the example of Judas. From an- 
other point of view our text furnishes us comfort 
and admonition. It is always the case, that, as our 
Lord Jesus fared on earth, so must His Church and 
precious Gospel fare to the end of the world. 
Judas, one of His disciples, betrays Christ. Thus, 
they who hold churchly offices and bear ecclesias- 
tical titles and names, wish to be regarded as the 
heads and rulers of the Church ; it is not thirty 
pieces of silver, as in the case of Judas, but many 
thousand dollars that make them traitors and arch- 
enemies of the Church. See the Pope, for instance ; 
he has the very bag of Judas hanging from his 
neck, and is so fond of money and possessions that 
he takes them in exchange for the Gospel, which 
he betrays and sells, and with which he deals as the 
Jews dealt with the Lord Jesus before Caiphas and 
Pilate! And just as Judas attaches to himself the 
servants of the high priests and rulers, so the Pope 
gathers about him monks, priests, schools, bishops, 
and his entire brood of spiritless Sodomites, who 


help him capture Christ, that is, persecute and 
denounce the Gospel, as if it were the most hellish 
heresy. And finally Pilate, the civil government, 
also joins them, and attempts to exterminate the 
Gospel with the sword. 

This has been taking place a long time, ever 
since the Pope received such great power and 
authority. And even to-day the ranks of Judas' 
army are being swelled by those who use the Gospel 
for coining gold, with which they then feed their 
avarice, ambition, pride and lust. These should, 
indeed, consider Judas' end. ife'or it has been 
resolved that neither the Pope nor any other 
traitors of Christ and His Word, let them be ever 
so exalted and wise, shall be blessed in the posses- 
sion of that price of blood obtained by selling Christ 
or His Gospel. Sooner or later remorse shall come ; 
and, should no amendment follow, these Gospel- 
venders, together with Judas their master, shall 
receive eternal death and damnation as their recom- 
pense, in the depths of hell. Let no one doubt this ! 
Were it not for the denunciation of such a terrible 
doom, we should have reason for being indignant 
on account of these miserable fellows, Pope, car- 
dinals, bishops, priests and monks, they fare so 
sumptuously every day. But, my friends, let us 
not envy these fattening hogs because God permits 
them for a little while to wallow in the filth of their 
obscene lusts ; the thirty pieces of silver, for which 
they sell their Lord every day, will lie heavily 
enough upon their souls when Christ shall say to 
them : "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting 
fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." Besides, 
their heart and conscience cannot be long satisfied. 


For, although they may for a time live in thought- 
lessness, security and riot, when eventually that 
little black dog, Eemorse by name, begins to bark, 
it will go badly enough with them ; then, with 
eternal ruin yawning before them, they shall see 
and feel what Isaiah meant in his 48. chapter, when 
he said : "There is no peace unto the wicked." We 
have instances before us at. the present time of the 
terrible end which came upon several of the most 
prominent adversaries of the Gospel. 

This we say with reference to Judas, of whom 
the Evangelists tell us how he sold Christ, led the 
Jews into the garden and betrayed the Lord Jesus 
with a kiss, which, according to Matthew, was the 
sign he should give the Jews. This is also applica- 
ble to those false prophets who, because they have 
the authority of office, mislead poor consciences 
with false and impure doctrine. 

The Evangelist John mentions two remarkable 
miracles performed in the garden by our Lord Jesus. 
One of them is the following. When the Jews had 
come into the garden to the Lord Jesus, He asked 
them, "Whom seek ye?" And when they had 
answered Him, "Jesus of Nazareth," His reply, "I 
am He," so frightened them that they all went 
backward and fell to the ground as if they had been 
struck by lightning. This was done by a special 
and divine power, which the Lord showed forth at 
that time, not alone to terrify the Jews, but also to 
strengthen His disciples. These, instead of ventur- 
ing, as they did, to rescue Jesus by force, might 
have concluded from this display of power that if 
the Lord did not choose to give Himself up unto 
death, He was able to defend Himself and resist His 


enemies without calling upon others for assistance 
or protection. The Lord wanted no violence done, 
and severely remonstrates with Peter on this sub- 
ject, as we shall see. This miracle, therefore, serves 
as a protection against that gulf of offences, in 
which both the Jews and afterwards even the disci- 
ples came near drowning. Since the Lord suffered 
Himself to be seized, allowed the Jews to play on 
Him their wauton pranks, and finally permitted 
Himself to be so shamefully executed upon the 
cross, even the disciples were so offended that they 
forgot all those miracles which they had seen Him 
do and all those powerful sermons they had heard 
of Him, and thought that everything was over with 
Him now, — that their hopes had been all in vain. 
And, on the other hand, the unbelieving and mali- 
cious Jews felt certain that their object would be 
Avell accomplished as soon as they should have Him 
nailed to the cross. 

How glorious, therefore, this miracle! The great- 
multitude of Jews, armed with swords and staves, 
provided with authority from the rulers, and eager 
and desperate to do its work, is driven back and so 
frightened that they all fall to the ground as it 
some enemy had violently thrust them down; and 
all this by the single word, "I am He," spoken by a 
man who stood alone and weaponless, and who did 
nothing more than speak most friendly words. 
The disciples see this great miracle ; the Jews also 
feel its force ; still it is soon forgotten. Yea, 
because Christ so patiently submitted to His suffer- 
ings and used no other power against His enemies, 
they took Him to be a mere man. 

But they should in all reason have argued as 


follows : If this Man is able, with a single word, 
which is neither invective nor curse, but only a 
gentle reply, as with a thunderbolt, to strike down 
such great, strong, bold and armed men, then must 
there surely be a deep meaning in His voluntary 
resignation. He is able to defend and protect Him- 
self, but instead of doing so He submits. He there- 
fore does not desire the aid of men. And, although 
He now hides His power and permits the Jews to 
do with Him what they will, this shall, by no 
means, be the end of it. Dismay must seize His 
enemies, but He must conquer. For that divine 
power which He showed forth so frequentl} 7 , and 
which He manifests here in the garden especially 
by the single word, "I am He," cannot remain with- 
held and repressed for a great length of time, &c. 

The disciples in particular should have regarded 
the miracle in this light. There can be no doubt 
that it was to this end that the Lord here revealed 
His divine might. But alas ! the effects of this were 
too quickly lost upon both parties. The Jews, 
intent on their mischief, feared no further. The 
disciples, running hither and thither, now sad, now 
terrified, had no hope of ever again seeing their 
Lord and Master, to say nothing of their despairing 
of ever being further benefited by Him. This was 
the "hour of darkness," as Christ calls it in the 
Gospel according to St. John, in which offences 
prevailed and the devil exercised His power. It 
was for this reason that the Lord so earnestly ad- 
monished the disciples, "Watch ye and pray, lest 
ye enter into temptation." 

The other miracle is similar to this. It is per- 
formed by Christ's second answer: "I have told 


you that I am He ; if therefore ye seek me, let these 
go their way." Our dear Lord is alone, and 
has neither sword nor spear; whereas Judas, the 
traitor, comes upon Him with a great multitude. 
We would think that our dear Lord had reason to 
entreat and beg, seeing that He stands against such 
numbers. But He advances and commands the 
Jews that they should let His disciples alone, and 
not lay hands on one ot them. This is a stern 
command : Sinite hos abire, "Let these go ;" and 
we see that it was not given in vain. For they, no 
doubt, set out with the thought that they would 
capture the whole company, Master and disciples. 
But this command compels them to desist from 
their intention of taking the disciples, although 
Peter did not deserve this, because he lay about him 
with his sword. 

But why does the Lord give such a command ? 
It is not incorrect to say, that He wishes to show 
by this that He esteems His own life more lightly 
than the lives of His disciples ; for He rescues them 
while He lets Himself be taken and bound. For 
the same reason He calls Himself a "Good Shep- 
herd" who "giveth His life for the sheep ;" and 
shows us His love as a special example, saying: 
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man 
lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, 
if ye do whatsoever I command you." We clearly 
see that He is silent about His own person; the 
Jews do with Him what they please and He does 
not hinder them. But He wants them to let His 
disciples alone and to do no violence to them. 
This shows that He cares more for them than for 


This was not clone without a purpose. Our dear 
Lord Jesus wanted no partners in the sufferings 
before Him. For, as the 53. chapter of Isaiah tells 
us, "The Lord hath laid on Him," on Him alone, 
"the iniquity of us all," and this He had to bear 
alone and for this offer Himself as a sacrifice. True, 
the disciples also were afterwards compelled to suffer 
for the sake of Christ and His Word, as Christ had 
told James and John : "Ye shall indeed drink of 
the cup ^that I drink of." 

But the suffering of the Lord Jesus was a suffer- 
ing for my sins, for thy sins, and for the sins of all 
the world ; so that now, for Christ's sake, God will 
not only forgive and pass by these sins, but also 
bestow righteousness and eternal life upon me, upon 
thee, and upon all believers. For this reason Christ 
desired to be alone, and permitted no one to be 
seized nor to suffer with Him. 

This should be preached in all churches through- 
out Christeudom, and with all diligence should the 
people be continually taught to hope for the for- 
giveness of every sin, alone through the sufferings 
and death of Christ, &c. But this is not done by 
the abominable Pope and his scandalous scribblers 
and shriekers. Their tongues, indeed, confess that 
Jesus is the Lamb of God, which taketh away the 
sin of the world ; but their actions give their words 
the lie. This they prove by their so woefully de- 
ceiving the poor people with their falsehoods ; tell- 
ing them to invoke deceased saints, of these saints 
to seek pardon for their sins, and with the merits 
of these saints to console themselves, and in virtue 
of their doing this they receive indulgences. This 
is as much as saying that Christ desired associates 


in His sufferings, and accomplished nothing by 

That the Lord was afterwards crucified between 
"two thieves" has its peculiar signification, viz., to 
show for whom Christ's sufferings avail, and upon 
whom they are lost; of which, however, we have 
no time to speak at present. But here in the garden 
the word is: Sinite hos abire, "Let these go;*' I 
alone am fit for this work ; to suffer and to die for 
the sins of the world is an office which belongs to 
me alone. Neither John, Peter or James can do 
anything in this ; let all these go their way ! I, "I 
am He;" me you must lay hold on, me capture, me 
bind, me crucify, unto me it is given to take away 
the sin of the world; and all who believe in me, 
that is, comfort themselves with my suffering and 
death, shall find a gracious God and eternal life. 

This, then, is the second part of the history of 
those things concerning Christ which occurred in 
the garden. It teaches us : first, to bear in mind 
this terrible fall of the Apostle Judas, to abide in 
the fear of God, to avoid sin, and to be diligent in 
prayer that God may in mercy prevent us from 
falling as Judas fell ; secondly, that we also, as true 
Christians, shall be sorely molested by the avarice 
of some Judas or other, that we must patiently 
endure this and cling to the consolation that Christ, 
though He may be weak in us now, will show His 
power at the proper time, and graciously protect 
and preserve us. The Ever-living Father of our 
Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ grant us this by His 
Holy Spirit. Amen. 


Christ Refusing to be Rescued by Peter's Sword. 

Matt. 26, 51-56. And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus 
stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of 
the high priest, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, 
Put up again thy sword into his place : for all they that take the 
sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now 
pray to my Father, and He shall presently give me more than twelve 
legions of angels? But how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that 
thus it must be? In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are 
ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? 
I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on 
me. But all this was done, that the Scriptures of the prophets might 
be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook Him, and fled. 

j|lris is the third and last part of the scene in 
the garden, or at the mount of Olives. It 
relates how Peter drew his sword, intending to 
rescue his Master by force, after they had taken the 
Lord Jesus. 

The facts here narrated, in the first place, teach 
us a necessary and useful lesson concerning the 
sword, or temporal power, showing who shall and 
who shall not wield it, and what punishment is due 
to him who presumes to bear it without a call. 
Secondly, whereas Peter in this case makes use of 
the sword to liberate Christ, and still Christ forbids 
his doing so, it becomes necessary here to treat the 
question, whether we dare or should defend the 
Gospel with the sword, so that the civil government 
may be properly instructed in both respects, and 
neither act contrary to its office, nor do more than 
its calling: demands. Otherwise both Church and 
State would be unjustly dealt by, which injustice 
would be most certainly punished. 


N )\v as far as Peter is concerned, it is manifest 
that he was a minister or ecclesiastic, whom it does 
not behoove to bear the sword, according to the 
words of Christ : "The princes of the Gentiles exer- 
cise dominion. Bat it shall not be so among you." 
Therefore, Peter does wrong in resorting to the 
sword for the Lord's protection, and Christ rebukes 
him for it. This was not a matter that could be 
decided with the sword, for Christ says : Even if 
our cause did depend upon our defence, "Thinkest 
thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and He 
shall presently give me more than twelve legions of 
angels?" This was as much as saying: It is .now 
expedient for me to suffer; I will not have any one 
to draw his sword on my account and strike for my 
protection. But Christ administers this rebuke to 
Peter for the reason, also, that to him as a private 
person the sword did not belong. Therefore, He 
not only commands Peter to put up his sword, but 
also pronounces the terrible threat : "All they that 
take the sword shall perish with the sword." 

We must duly heed these words ; for by them 
the Lord makes a distinction among men, inform- 
ing us that some wield the sword by divine com- 
mission. These are all they who, by the proper 
and ordinary means, are called to the temporal 
government for the purpose of ruling, of guarding 
and promoting the public weal, and of preventing 
public offences. Into the hands of these God gives 
the sword, that is, it is God's will and institution 
that they bear the sword, not for their own emolu- 
ment, but for the good of their subjects, as St. Paul 
says : A ruler "is the minister of God, a revenger 
to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil." For 


since words will not persuade the world, severity 
must be used, and people must be compelled to 
desist from crime, so that the common peace and 
unity may be maintained and a restraint be put 
upon wantonness. If the thief persist in stealing, 
let him dangle from the gallows, and then we shall 
be secure from him. Let the wanton villain who 
takes delight in injuring every one, and who strikes 
and stabs tor the sake of a mere word, find justice 
on the gibbet, and then he will let people alone; 
he will henceforth strike and stab no more, for the 
hangman puts an excellent stop to such work. 
Therefore, the civil government serves God by using 
the sword against sin and scandal ; for God, who 
will not leave offences and sin unpunished, has 
given the command to do this. God makes this 
distinction among men, that to a few He intrusts 
the sword, with it to ward off mischief and to pro- 
tect the subjects. 

But the rest, who have not received such author- 
ity, must, by no means, handle the sword, and never 
draw it except at the command of the temporal 
government. But should they take it on their own 
responsibility, the judgment written here will most 
certainly not fail : "All they that take the sword 
shall perish with the sword." In every history we 
see how they who took revenge into their own 
hands never succeeded well with it ; all rebels had 
to suffer finally and perished with the sword. All 
manslayers who wickedly murdered others were 
either delivered to the executioner or perished in 
some other way, or else went so astray in the miser- 
able life they led that they would a thousand times 
better have died. Such is the regulation of God • 


He will have it so, that all they that take the sword, 
and do not wait until God or the government gives 
it to them, shall perish with the sword ; this cannot 
be changed. Let every one, therefore, be careful 
and bridle his wrath ; let him either patiently bear 
his wrongs and subdue his passion, or else seek 
justice in the proper and divinely sanctioned way. 
What this is, has been sufficiently pointed out. Since 
God has given temporal governments the command 
to restrain offences and defend the pious with the 
sword, we must seek safety at the hands of these 
governments and inform against the offender. We 
must do this not alone for our security, but also to 
the end that offences be resisted, that malice be 
hindered, and that they who exercise temporal 
authority may properly discharge the duties of their 
office. For neither a mayor of a town nor a ruler 
of a land can be acquainted with every disturbance, 
and still their office makes them responsible to God 
for the quelling of all offences and uproars. Now 
if you and every body else would choose to keep 
silent about your wrongs, this would only increase 
the mischief and be giving the occasion for your 
own hurt, both of which results would be wrong, 
and both of which you can prevent by calling upon 
the government for protection. Should the govern- 
ment, however, upon your petition do nothing in 
this matter, and not help you to your rights, then 
observe this : Bear your wrongs patiently and be- 
ware of revenging yourself, lest your righteous 
cause become unrighteous before God and man. 

But what then becomes of the words of Christ : 
"Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, 
turn to him the other also. And if any man will 


sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let 
him have thy cloak also," &c.? We answer: Both 
of these commands were given that we might be 
restrained from taking revenue into our own hands, 
and that we might rather suffer all things, and wait 
for the judgment of the Heavenly Judge, who is 
not so slow and heedless in conducting His office, 
as the civil authorities frequently are in conducting 
theirs. Christ here does not forbid our complain- 
ing to the government of the injury that is done 
us; He does not impose silence upon us. 

But, you ask, do I not seek revenge when I make 
complaint against him who has harmed me? Most 
certainly ; but you do right by this, provided you 
do it in the proper way and without anger or hatred 
towards your neighbor. For this is not your own 
revenge, but the revenge instituted by God for the 
purpose of checking scandal and protecting every 
one in the possession of his own. In short, he who 
has not been commanded to use the sword and still 
arrogates it to himself, to revenge himself or others, 
subjects himself to the judgment and condemnation 
of God : "All they that take the sword shall perish 
with the sword." Whenever, therefore, you or 
yours are injured, beware of the improper course of 
grasping the sword yourself and being your own 
defender! But make use of the correct means, 
that is, bring the matter before your government 
and let this protect and succor you ; God com- 
manded it to do this and ordained it for this. If 
you do this you do well, and will be safe against 
meddling with the affairs of others. But if the 
government either will not or can not help you, 
then endure your afflictions, touch not the sword, 


and let God be your Avenger ; He surely- will 
avenge you and also punish the government for its 
negligence ! 

But should a cut-throat come upon me in the 
forest, or a ruffian attack me on the highway, with 
the intention to harm me, and I had no time to 
seek the protection of the government, must I suffer 
myself to be injured or murdered? No; for in 
such a case the government permits every one to 
defend his person and his life against violence and 
outrage; for whenever she can lay hold on these 
villains, she executes them without delay. For this 
and other reasons Moses, according to the command 
of God, prescribed the appointment of several cities 
of refuge, to which the man slayer might resort who 
had taken life not intentionally, nor for revenge, 
nor in wrath, but accidentally or in pressing 
necessity. The civil authorities also follow this 
rule and recognize the lawfulness of self-defence. 
But in all other cases remember that "All they that 
take the sword shall perish with the sword." 

But as they who, having no right to the sword, 
still continue to usurp the power of the sword, clo 
not seek lawful vengeance and wish to admin- 
ister vengeance themselves ; even so, on the other 
hand, the}', to whom God has given the sword that 
they might diligently wield it, are always inclined 
to be too mild, as though God had given a fox's 
tail into their hand instead of a keen-edged sword. 
These latter also commit great sin and are griev- 
ously disobedient before God, and they also shall 
be very sorely punished for their conduct. For 
where the civil government does not oppose public 
scandal with reasonable severity, there God Himself 


must eventually interfere as Judge and use the 
sword. And at the advent of this Judge, not only 
an individual or two, but an entire city or land 
must suffer for these sius. This we learn from 
many passages of Scripture and from numerous 
instances before us. It is, therefore, necessary that 
magistrates do not become lazy or indulgent, but 
that they exercise a becoming earnestness and a 
vigilant supervision, and that they apply punish- 
ment wherever offences exist; thus they satisfy the 
demands of their office and please God. But. as 
we have already said, this is an unpleasant duty ; 
men take no delight in it, as can be shown by 
examples. For how T often do we not find mildness 
used where it should not be used, and the most 
heinous offences lightly punished ! How frequently 
are not hindrances interposed, and intercession 
made, so that crimes escape unpunished! 

But should we not have more regard for the 
divine command than for human intercession ? 
God says : Receive from my hand this sword ; I 
give it thee -that thou shalt, in my stead, punish 
every one under thy control who is guilty of public 
offence, no matter whether he be friend or foe, 
exalted or low, rich or poor, noble or ignoble ; let 
the sword descend wherever there are offences, so 
that these may not prevail! This is what God says 
to every government. But, on the other hand, 
men come with their petitions, asking that this or 
that one might be pardoned, or punished mildly, 
although the most terrible trespasses, atrocia delicta, 
have been committed, such as brutal murder, incest, 
and the like, &c. And it often happens that man's 
intercession has more influence upon the govern- 


merit than the stringent command of God. I leave 
it to you to judge whether this is right, and what 
must be the result under God's justice. 

Sometimes offences are public, but the civil 
government refuses to punish them unless some one 
volunteers as plaintiff. Because no one brings com- 
plaint, it lets the matter pass. This is downright 
heedlessness, both in regard to God's command 
and to the office. The watchman is stationed on 
the tower, by day and by night to be on the look- 
out for fires or other mischief that may occur with- 
in or without the city, and then to publish the 
danger in time, and to warn against losses. In 
like manner God has placed the temporal ruler far 
above all other people, that he might exercise 
watchfulness, and when he sees offences about to 
be committed, be they great or small, to put them 
down with the sword before they become formid- 
able, no matter whether any one has complained or 
not. Therefore, "he beareth the sword," as Paul 
says, to be "a terror to evil works," so that peace 
may be enjoyed by all and wantonness may be 
resisted. And the Lord commands here that the 
sword shall not rest nor be idle, but destroy those 
who take it. Thus we see that both parties fail to 
do their duty : they who have not the sword, wish 
to have it and lay about them with it, like Peter 
here; but they who have it, can with great difficulty 
be persuaded to grasp and wield it. 

But they who really understand and obey this 
passage will act differently. They, into whose 
hands God has not committed the sword, will, of 
course, let it alone, and rather suffer all things than 
presume so far as to take it ; and this, because they 


recognize the command of Christ and the ordinance 
of God, which they feel certain dare not be trifled 
with, and against the violation of which they 
gnard as against the executioner, the gallows or 
the wheel. And they, to whom God has given the 
sword, will cheerfully and fearlessly sway it over 
one and all, regardless of their subjects' station and 
property ; for they know that they are bound to 
check scandal wherever they meet it, and, therefore, 
they obey God and serve Him eagerly. This must 
suffice for the first point. 

The question which we stated in the beginning 
now claims attention. As private persons are ab- 
solutely forbidden to grasp the sword, and the Lord 
reproves Peter for drawing his sword in Christ's 
behalf, would it then be lawful for a government to 
defend itself when attacked on account of religion? 
Or, in plainer terms : considering that Christ did 
not permit Peter to rescue Him with the sword, are 
rulers permitted to resist attacks made on the Gos- 
pel, and to instruct their subjects everywhere to 
defend it with the sword? 

It is necessary here, first, to observe the distinc- 
tion between the civil government, the office of the 
ministry, and the private person. The civil govern- 
ment, above all other duties assigned to it, has 
received the emphatic command to disseminate and 
apply God's Word, and with the sword to protect 
those subjects who are oppressed on account of the 
Word. About this there is no question whatever; 
for the sword must protect virtue and punish vice, 
and, above all, serve to promote the knowledge of 
God, as we infer from Rom. 13. And God says in 
Isa. : The Church shall "suck the breasts of kings," 


that is, they shall be her protectors ; and, in the 24. 
Ps. : "Lift up your heads, ye gates ; and be ye 
lifted up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of 
glory shall come in." 

But ministers of the Gospel and private persons 
are not the civil government; therefore, neither 
ministers nor private persons dare draw the sword, 
for they have received no command to this effect. 
Peter, at that time, did not understand this so; for 
he did not know that the ministry would be an 
office void of royal and princely favor. Peter should 
not, therefore, have drawn the sword. But all 
temporal authorities are obliged to shield God's 
Word and the true Church. Had God ordained 
them as swineherds, then their only duty would be 
to protect the throats and care for the corn of their 
subjects; but, as it now is, they must, first of all, 
preserve the honor and knowledge of God in the 
human race, perpetuate the true worship of God, 
punish and exterminate false doctrine and idolatry, 
and rather hazard everything than suffer themselves 
or their subjects to be forced into idolatry or false- 
hood. Therefore the 2. Ps. says to them : "Kiss 
the Son," that is, receive and protect God's Word ! 

This is the civil ruler's noblest duty. We see in 
history that God imposed this duty, and that the 
Holy Spirit highly extols not only the pious Jewish 
kings, Jehoshaphat, Josiah, Hezekiah, but also the 
kings of the Gentiles, e. g. Nebuchadnezzar, Darius, 
Cyrus, because they instituted the true worship of 
God and violently opposed the worship of idols. 

This being the office of the civil government, it 
follows that she must, as long as she can, protect 
and preserve herself and those belonging to her 


against the attacks of the ungodly and never give 
way to these assaults ; for it is impossible that they 
who persecute God's Word and carry on idolatry, 
should have the Holy Ghost. For what would be 
the result should she refuse to do this? She alone 
bears the sword; and her subjects dare not take it 
even in case she herself refuses to use it. The 
inevitable result must be that success would crown 
the efforts of the wicked, the Word of God would 
be extirpated, God's pure worship would cease, and 
the old idolatry would be re-established! 

Now who is willing to sanction this and, by 
sanctioning it, to heap upon himself such great and 
terrible sin? yes, who will dare to do this, knowing 
that it is written : "Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, 
and ye perish from the way;" further, Lev. 24: 
"He that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he 
shall surely be put to death ;" also : "Flee from 
idolatry;" and again : "Rulers are a terror to evil 
works?" And now, since the establishing of idol- 
atry is an evil work, they who have the sword are 
not only permitted, but also seriously commanded, 
with all boldness to shield and save themselves and 
theirs from this evil by the sword. On the subject 
of self-defense, you may find the answer to the 
question, whether subordinates may defend them- 
selves against those superiors who exercise public 
tyranny, as against notorious murderers or high- 
waymen, by reading the Admonition to the German 
People, and other works which specially treat on 
this subject; it would occupy too much time at 

But here we speak of those alone who have the 
sword, that is, who are in office. Now if bishops, 


for instance, who are of that class of people that has 
not the sword, deprive their subjects of one of the 
elements in the Holy Supper, or inflict upon them 
other manifest errors, these subjects, although they 
ought, in such cases, to obey God rather than men, 
and although God seriously requires such disobedi- 
ence to their commands, dare not draw the sword 
on account of such errors, but must bear them, if 
they would not use the sword like Peter, who had 
not been commanded to do so. 

But you say that a Christian must tolerate in- 
justice and violence, and not oppose them by force. 
I answer that the subject of which we now are 
speaking is the civil government, who is the sword- 
bearer; and she has sufficient violence done her 
when other governments destroy her peace and 
attack her in war. Let us regard these her suffer- 
ings as severe enough, and not impose still further 
burdens upon a Christian government ! He who 
afflicts her still more, and even snatches the sword 
out of her hand, virtually gives his consent that 
the enemies of truth shall exercise their malice 
without restraint, and even deprive us of God's 
Word. There is time euough for giving such con- 
sent, when the government is not able to protect 
the truth. But as long as we can hope for her 
help, and as long as the matter depends upon the 
help of God and reposes in His hand, it is our duty 
to venture and to suffer, so that we may not be 
accused of being more mindful of favor, peace, and 
the like, than of God's Word and the salvation and 
well-being of the subjects. 

Ever clear and plain, therefore, stands the com- 
mand : Osculamini filium ; Hunc audite, "Kiss the 


Son;" "Hear ye Him;" "Flee from idolatry," &c. 
Such commands as these require of the worldly 
ruler that he oppose not merely worldly or temporal 
offence, but also false doctrine and false worship. 
But by what means must he do this? What means 
has God given him? Read St. Paul's 13. chapter 
to the Romans, where you are informed : "He 
beareth not the sword iu vain." But against whom 
shall he bear it? Against those who defend false 
doctrines and idolatry, and who seek to compel 
others to accept heresy and false worship. This 
the Christian government dare not tolerate. For 
the heavenly Lord of lords has forbidden it, and 
declares that God is worshiped and His Word 
lauded when we jeopard peace, the favor of men, 
and the like, rather than sanction that which mili- 
tates against God's Word. 

This, then, is the import of Peter's unauthorized 
attempt at liberating the Lord by fighting with the 
sword. But in our text we find yet another sermon, 
which is a reproof designed especially for the Jews, 
who had been instructed by their proper govern- 
ment to take swords and staves, and with them to 
attack the Lord Jesus. Still they receive the Lord's 
reprimand. "Are ye come out as against a thief 
with swords and staves for to take me? I sat 
daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid 
no hold on me." 

With these words the Lord rebukes them for a 
twofold reason. In the first place, even when the 
civil government puts the sword into her subjects' 
hands, they must not take it if they are expected to 
use it in an unrighteous cause; and, secondly, they 
should not have taken it to use it against Him, 


their Lord. For He was no murderer. It was the 
doctrine that was in question. Doctrinal disputes 
are not to be judged and decided by fire and sword 
in imitation of the Papists, but according to the 
Scriptures. If we are heretics, as they accuse us, 
then let them prove it from Scripture, and leave the 
hangman at home; he has no business with such 

But as the Jews dealt with Christ, so the Papists, 
their disciples, still deal with Him. They can not 
and they will not enter upon a debate, unless their 
doctors and papal decrees are recognized as having 
equal authority with God's Word. But since we 
refuse to recognize them as having such, they come 
out against us with swords and staves, as did the 
Jews against Christ. I suppose they do this so that 
every one can see that they are of the same breed 
with the Jews, to whom the Lord says, Jno. 8 : 
"Ye are of your father the devil," for "ye seek to 
kill me." This applies admirably to these blood- 
hounds, the Papists. But we, who, like Peter, have 
not been called to use the sword, must suffer these 
things. God, however, in His own good time, will 
punish such cruel despotism, and mercifully deliver 
His own from the fury of these blood-thirsty 
tyrants. Amen. 


The Lord Jesus Led to Annas and Caiaphas and 
Tried by the Jews. 

Matt. 26, 57-G8. And they that had laid hold on Jesus led Him 
a wiiy to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders 
were assembled. But Peter followed Him afar off unto the high priest's 
palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end. Now 
the chief priests, and elders, and all the council sought false witness 
against Jesus, to put Him to death ; but found none : yea, though 
many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came 
two false witnesses, and said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy 
the temple of God, and to build it in three days. And the high priest 
arose, and said unto Him, Answerest Thou nothing? what is it which 
these witness against Thee? But Jesus held His peace And the high 
priest answered and said unto Him, 1 adjure Thee by the living God. 
that Thou tell us whether Thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus 
saith unto him, Thou hast said : nevertheless I say unto you, Here- 
after shall ye see the Son of man sitiing on the right, hand of power, 
and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his 
clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy ; what further need have 
we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard His blasphemy. What 
think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death. Then did 
they spit in His face, and buffeted Him ; and others smote Him with 
the palms of their hands, saying, Prophesy unto us, Thou Christ, 
Who is he that smote Thee ? 

^%^P e h ave heard how our Lord Jesus was be- 
S§Js^ tra yecl by Judas in the garden and taken by 
the Jews. Now we come to notice how He was 
brought before Caiaphas, the high priest, under 
such charges as to lead to the unanimous decision 
that there was sufficient cause for delivering Him 
to Pilate and aiming at His life. 

In describing these tilings so carefully it was not 
the only object of the Evangelists to teach us the 
holy innocence of our Lord Jesus. That He was 
wholl} r pure and altogether without sin we must 
conclude from the known fact that He was the Son 


of God, conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of 
the Virgin Mary. But, since the Church and the 
Gospel must receive the same treatment in the 
world which the Lord Jesus received, the history 
of Christ's wrongs is given us especially to the end 
that we may not be offended when similar wrongs 
are inflicted upon us also, but that we may always 
refer to it for consolation and learn to be patient. 
For if God's Son, our Master and our Head, was 
falsely accused, delivered to Pilate by the high 
priests, scribes and elders, and surrendered to the 
Gentiles to be crucified, is it to be wondered at if 
we receive similar treatment ? The servant is not 
to be more successful than his master. Therefore, 
we should rejoice when our experience is such that 
we can truthfully boast: This was the experience 
of my Lord Jesus also. For if we are like Him in 
suffering, we are warranted in the hope of being 
like Him in glory too; yea, and even before the 
revelation of this glory, we shall, in our suffering, 
derive from Him comfort, aid, deliverance. This 
history, which shows that even our Lord Jesus was 
not exempt from suffering, serves, therefore, first, to 
minister unto us consolation, that we may become 
more cheerful and more patient in our sufferings. 

And, secondly, it offers us an antidote against 
the common offences of this world. For every one 
regards the titular dignitaries, called chief priests 
and elders of the people here, as pious men and 
saints, in virtue of their office, station and pomp. 
And so to-day the Pope, bishops, monks and priests 
desire, on account of their office, to be looked upon 
and treated as the most eminent members of the 
Christian Church. But let us learn here not to 


judge men by the office they hold, else we shall be 
deceived; but by the manner in which they act 
towards Christ — by the relation which their heart, 
their will, sustains towards Him. When, by this 
text, we find good or evil in them, we must judge 
them accordingly; for then our judgement shall 
always be just. The office is, without a doubt, a 
holy and a good one ; but he who holds it may be a 
villain. For here we see that the high priests, the 
scribes and the elders, who are the rulers and 
leaders of the people in spiritual things and in 
things temporal, are the very ones who cannot 
tolerate the Lord Jesus and who, by dint of unre- 
mitting persecution and manifold intrigues, finally 
bring: Him to the cross. We must confess that 
they are God's worst enemies and also, as Luke 
testifies in the 5. chapter of Acts, Epicureans, who 
in those days said that there is no resurrection 
from the dead, neither angel nor spirit. If we 
would, therefore, know 7 to a certainty whether 
Pope, bishops, and the like, are pious or not, we 
must not be misled by their office; but need merely 
see how they conduct themselves towards the Gospel 
and the true doctrine, when we shall find that all of 
them are disciples of Judas, and that their hearts 
are disposed towards the Gospel as were those of 
the high priests towards Christ. These are the 
very fruits by which we may know the false proph- 
ets, the wolves, even when they come in sheep's 
clothing and have the appearance of devout and 
harmless persons. 

We shall now take up the trial of our Lord, and 
see with what hatred, malignity, craft, and virulence 
they treat Christ. 


The Evangelist John mentions that the Jews led 
the Lord Jesus first to Annas, who, according to 
Acts 4., was also a high priest, but not in that year, 
and who was the father-in-law to Caiaphas, who 
officiated at the time. But Annas soon gave Him 
over to his son-in-law, Caiaphas, who was the high 
priest that same year ; for with him the chief priests 
and elders were already assembled. 

Here we see, in the first place, how inequitably 
the high priests deal with the Lord Jesus ; for they 
are at the same time both plaintiff and judge. The 
Lord could, therefore, not receive justice, let His 
cause have been ever so good, and let Him have 
said and done what He would. Such a way of pro- 
ceeding would be very dishonorable in a worldly 
law-suit, in which the same person is forbidden to 
act as plaintiff and judge by a special law. But 
nothing is sinful for these holy ones ; they have all 
power ; they can do as they please, and think they 
have the right to do so! Woe to him who con- 
strues their actions ill, tells them they are in the 
wrong, or admonishes them ! 

Just so our spiritless tyrants, Pope, cardinals and 
bishops conduct themselves. The Pope has for 
many successive years been causing us Germans to 
gape in expectation of a Council, at which, as he 
lias been pretending, he would abolish, the dissen- 
sion existing in religious matters. And, on our 
part, many serious efforts have been made at many 
an imperial diet, and on other occasions, to secure a 
free, Christian Council, at which to end the present 
disunion by means of the Holy Scriptures. But it 
is the manifest desire of the Pope to treat us and 
the Gospel as the Jews here treated Christ. He is 


a party ia the case; accusation is brought against 
the blasphemous dogmas and counterfeit cultus 
which he has insinuated into the Church, in spite 
of God's Word, and upon which he still insists ; 
what should he, as the defendant, do ? If he him- 
self is to be the judge, he will not declare himself 
in the wrong and decide in favor of his opponent, 
the plaintiff. But upon such a course as this the 
Pope and his parasites — these honorable men ! — 
strenuously insist. Yea and more, when a Coun- 
cil is held he takes public part in it, while we, 
previously condemned by him, obtain neither vote 
nor seat. This is a wanton, unjust and grievous 

But here we have the proof that the world does 
not desire and is not able to deal otherwise with 
Christ. We should, therefore, be resigned, and, 
with the Lord Jesus, bear such injustice until the 
appointed time ; for what else can we do ? Caia- 
phas, who, as judge, sat in the judgment seat, him- 
self accuses the Lord Jesus and then even decides 
against Him. This is the first act of injustice in 
the trial before the priests. 

Another atrocious feature of this trial we tind in 
their absolutely demanding the death of the Lord 
Jesus, while they cannot find sufficient cause for 
this, but must call to their assistance falsehood and 
false witnesses, until finally Caiaphas, the judge, 
himself arises and brings forth an accusation 
possessing some semblance of foundation. Among 
other false testimony submitted, was that of "two 
false witnesses," who came "and said : This fellow 
said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and 
to build it in three days." 


The correct history of this latter charge we find 
in the 2. chapter of John. When our Lord Jesus, 
in Jerusalem, at the first passover after His baptism, 
had with a scourge driven out of the temple the 
changers of money and the merchants, together 
with their oxen, sheep, doves, and whatever else 
they had, and poured out the changers' money, and 
overthrown the tables, the Jews gathered together 
and said : Thou venturest to exercise special vio- 
lence here; hast Thou authority to do this? What 
sign shewest Thou unto us, seeing that Thou doest 
these things? Then the Lord answered them thus: 
"Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise 
it up." By this He meant to say the same as by 
the sign of the Prophet Jonah, Matt. 12., namely 
this : You desire a sign and shall have it. You 
shall kill me ; but on the third day I will raise my- 
self from the dead. He for whom such sign does 
not suffice is past all help. This is the narrative. 

But see, how wantonly they pervert His words ! 
He says: "Destroy this temple;" and then they 
charge Him with having said : "I am able to destroy 
the temple," thus to make Him appear guilty ot 
having spoken against the temple of God. And 
even if we accept the Jews' interpretation of Christ's 
words, admitting that they were spoken with refer- 
ence to the temple at Jerusalem, would a man be 
guilty of death on account of using such words? 
In short, he who would make charges against 
Christ, must first become a base liar ; our Papists 
also are a living proof of this. What they cry out 
against the Gospel is bare falsehood. The}' are 
dead to every sense of shame, daub their notions 
into other men's books and belie us, saying that the 


holy sacrament receives scandalous treatment at 
our hands, that we throw against the wall what 
remains of the cup, and that we tramp with our 
feet what is left of the consecrated bread. Are 
these not gross, palpable lies ? Why, common 
bread and wine is not treated so, but is preserved. 
How much more would we then not keep decently 
that, of which we confess and teach, in opposition 
to the Sacramentarians, that it is not mere bread 
and not mere wine, but the true body and blood ol 
Christ, given for us upon the cross and shed for our 
sins! But we need not wonder at the Papists' lies. 
He who deals in falsehoods can speak no truth, and 
he who acts contrary to truth cannot help himself 
except with lies. On this principle the world, as 
we here see, dealt with Christ, and will continue so 
to deal with the Christians and the Holy Gospel ; 
for it cannot do otherwise. 

But when their witness agreed not together and 
was powerless in itself, Caiaphas, the judge or high 
priest, rushed to the rescue, and, according to John, 
asked Jesus of His disciples, and of His doctrine, as 
though he would say: What is this new doctrine 
Thou bringest? Art Thou dissatisfied with Moses? 
Must Thou have something extra ? Art Thou alone 
wise and are all we fools? Where are they now 
who regarded Thy doctrine right and divine? It 
may be such a good doctrine that we too would be 
pleased with it and receive it. But it is merely the 
rabble, which knows nothing about the law, that 
Thou attachest to thyself; the honest and upright 
desire not thy preaching. To such question the 
Lord answered : "I ever taught in the synagogue, 
and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; 


and in secret have I said nothing. Why askest 
thou me ? ask them which heard me, what I have 
said unto them; behold, they know what I said." 
The Lord does not desire His doctrine to be despised, 
and says that He had not feared the light, but had 
preached it openly to the world, that it should, 
therefore, not be reviled as a thing done in a corner. 

When He had thus spoken, a scoundrel standing 
by dealt the Lord a severe blow with the palm of 
his hand, as though it were intolerable that the 
high priest should be thus answered and not more 
reverently treated. Even to-day we see such priests' 
slaves, who are ready to defend with the sword the 
sacrilegious doctrines and shameful, sodomitical 
life of the Pope and his shaved and shorn train. 
And then we also find those vain prattlers, jesters, 
mountebanks, and the like, who would serve them 
faithfully, and whose only object in blaspheming 
and reviling the holy Gospel is, to receive the favor 
of their bishops and of the idol at Rome. This we 
must suffer, indeed, as Christ also suffered it, but 
dare not connive at it, nor forbear rebuking and 
publishing such vice. We must do as Christ here 
does : He addresses the servant, and tells him that 
he had smitten Him unjustly, but does nothing 

When they now found themselves without any 
cause of action, Caiaphas, the high priest, comes to 
the main point, saying: "I adjure Thee by the liv- 
ing God, that Thou tell us whether Thou be the 
Christ, the Son of God." Knave Caiaphas thinks 
thus to hit the nail on the head, and to seize the 
Lord Jesus by the throat. Observe here, first of 
all, that it is not the intention of Caiaphas that he 


or the rest should believe in the Lord, in case He 
should say that He is the Christ. By no means! 
But this is the very confession they desire to hear 
Him make, thinking that then they could convict 
Him without difficulty. And Christ understands 
them well enough ; but this does not induce Him 
to deny who He is. He answers : "Thou hast said," 
that is, just as thou hast said, I am the Christ And 
what is still more, it shall only be a little while yet 
and ye shall "see the Son of man sitting on the 
right hand of power ;" that is, after these days I 
shall not need to sutler any more, but, in my glori- 
fied body, shall show that I am not only a man, as 
you regard me, but also the almighty Son of God, 
who rules over all, and on the judgment day I shall 
come in the clouds of heaven and judge the quick 
and the dead. 

Behold, now the high priest has heard the glori- 
ous, excellent confession which tells him what he 
should believe concerning this man, whom he and 
others had prepared themselves to entrap, and 
whom they were resolved on killing. Let us see 
what use the high priest makes of this confession. 
Matthew tells us that he "rent his clothes, saying, 
He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need 
have we of witnesses? Behold, now ye have heard 
His blasphemy. What think ye?" 

In this, the first trial of our blessed Lord Jesus, 
which took place in the house of Caiaphas, He was 
declared a heretic and blasphemer. This gluts the 
high priestly maw; and now it only remains to 
have some worldly accusation brought against 
Christ before Pilate, so that His death might be 
decreed. While each one privately deliberates on 


this, our innocent Lord Jesus is made to submit to 
their scorn; He must suffer them to spit in His 
holy face, and Himself to be buffeted, derided, 
smitten and mocked. For they regard such treat- 
ment altogether just, because Christ has been pro- 
nounced a heretic and blasphemer. They make a 
jest of His saying that He is the Christ. One strikes 
Him on this side, another on that. "Aha! You 
are the Christ, are you," they say, "then, pray, 
prophesy unto us, who is he that smote Thee ?" 

But let us diligently mark whether the Gospel 
does not fare in the same way to-day. The Papists 
question us, and desire to know our doctrine. And 
then, when we with the greatest simplicity and 
honesty confess our doctrine, as was done at Augs- 
burg, at Eatisbon, and at imperial diets in other 
places, the mighty clamor rises : Heretics, heretics ! 
All are busy then at heaping upon the poor Chris- 
tians whatever ignominy, contempt, mockery and 
injury they can rally. They cry : It is Evangelical 
you are, is it? Is this your Gospel ? Just wait, we 
will give you a little of the Gospel ? And so they 
have gone to work and inflicted a most atrocious 
reproduction of the Passion-History upon the pious 
Christians of Germany, Italy, France and England. 

It is, therefore, important that we carefully study 
this priestly Processum Juris. For then, in case 
we are brought before a similar tribunal, we can 
follow the example of our Lord Jesus, learning of 
Him patience, and deriving from Him true consola- 
tion. And, should we be compelled to suffer with 
Him for the sake of His "Word, we can hope also to 
live with Him, and with Him to be lifted to glory. 
May God grant this to us all. Amen. 


Peter Thrice Denies the Lord Jesus in the 
House of Caiaphas. 

Matt. 26, 69-75. Now Peter sat without in the palace : and a 
damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. 
But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest. 
And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, 
and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus 
of Nazareth. And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the 
man. And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said 
to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them ; for thy speech bewrayeth 
thee. Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the 
man. And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the 
word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt 
deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly. 

%his is a useful narrative, for which reason it 
is related by each of the four Evangelists. 
It is useful chiefly in two respects. First, it teaches 
us to cherish humility and avoid presumption ; for 
see how easily Peter, who would previously have 
gladly imperiled his body and his life for the Lord 
Jesus, is brought to such a terrible fall. And 
secondly, it teaches us how we may regain grace, 
after we have fallen into sin ; for Peter furnishes us 
with a pleasing example of Christian repentance, 
showing what repentance really is, and how we 
must be freed from sin. But let us first relate the 

When Jesus was taken captive in the garden and 
led away, first to Annas, father-in-law to Caiaphas, 
and from Annas to the high priest Caiaphas, John, 
as he himself writes, followed from afar and entered 


the house of Caiaphas, in which he was acquainted, 
bringing Peter in with him. The latter sat down 
with the servants in the house and warmed himself 
at the fire. Then a damsel asked him whether he 
was a disciple of the captive Jesus. He vehemently 
denied that he was. The cock then crew for the 
first time. Upon this, as Matthew and Mark relate, 
Peter went away from the fire, out into the porch, 
where he was encountered in a similar way by a 
maid, who began to say to them that stood by, 
This is one of them. Luke tells us that it was a 
man who said this of Peter. It needs merely be 
remembered here that, after the maid had begun to 
speak about Peter, the rest also expressed their 
opinions and chimed in with the maid. Peter then 
a second time denied. And finally, about the space 
of one hour after, as we are informed by Luke, he 
was met by one of the servants of the high priest, 
who, according to John, was a kinsman to him 
whose ear Peter cut off. He attacks Peter a little 
more severely than the rest, publicly saying that he 
had seen him in the garden with Jesus. Peter 
would not keep silent to this accusation, for he 
feared that it would endanger his life. Then began 
he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the 
man, of whom ye speak. ]STow the Lord turns and 
casts upon Peter a look which so penetrates his 
soul, that he now perceives what he has done ; and 
he goes out of Caiaphas' palace and weeps bitterly. 
This is about the whole of ^the occurrence in order, 
as related by the four Evangelists. 

Here we should, in the first place, as stated in the 
beginning, learn from the example of pious Peter to 
recognize our weakness, so that we may refrain 


from putting absolute confidence in other people or 
in ourselves. For our hearts are so entirely faint 
and fickle that they change every hour, as the Lord 
says in the 2. chapter of John. Who in the world 
would have expected such instability and feebleness 
in Peter! When the Lord, Luke 22., cautioned 
him, saying, Satan hath desired to have you, that 
he may sift you as wheat, how courageous was he 
not, how bold and undismayed ! "Lord," said he, 
U I am ready to go with Thee, both into prison, and 
to death." And when the Lord continued to ad- 
monish him, telling him not to be so foolhardy, 
and that before the cock would crow twice he should 
have denied Him thrice, we see that Peter thought 
it all a fable. He imagined this impossible, and 
intended to adhere to and defend the Lord at the 
risk of his own life. And his actions, indeed, show 
this to have been his intention. For in the hour of 
greatest peril, when the Jews were taking captive 
the Lord in the garden, Peter was the first to draw 
his sword, and he slashed into the mob, notwith- 
standing that he and only one other armed person 
opposed so many who were well equipped, ^ow 
who would have believed that one so valiant, *who 
so faithfully stands by his Master, would so soon 
afterwards shamefully betray Him? In the garden 
no one attempted to hurt Peter and his fellow disci- 
ples, for the Lord's "Let these go" protected them. 
And especially here in the house of Caiaphas no 
one desires to injure them. But when, altogether 
incidentally, and perhaps through sympathy, the 
damsel that kept the door said unto Peter : "Art 
not thou also one of this man's disciples?" his 
courage failed him, and he feared that he would 


Lave to share his Master's fate if he should answer 
yes, and, therefore, he denies that he is a disciple. 
And when he was accosted on this point the second 
time and the third, he began to curse and to swear, 
calling upon God to visit upon him His wrath if he 
had ever known or seen the man. 

Let us pay due attention to the conduct of Peter, 
so that we may learn properly to know ourselves 
and other people, and to beware of presumptuous- 
ness. For if such a denial of faith can proceed 
from Peter, who, above all the other disciples, had 
a heart tilled with loyalty and love for the Lord 
Jesus, yea, who was so enlightened by the grace of 
God that even Christ said unto him : "Blessed art 
thou, Simon, for flesh and blood hath not revealed 
it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven," 
and that He gave to him the name Cephas, "a 
stone," how much more easily can not such denial 
come from us poor mortals, who are much inferior 
to Peter in point of gifts, and, in all other respects, 
much more faint and frail? Be on thy guard, 
therefore ; be not irreverently bold ; think not that 
thou hast climbed the mountain and art out of 
danger ; remember that thy flesh is totally corrupt ! 
Neither doth Satan slumber, but walketh about as 
a roaring lion, seeking whose heart he may trouble, 
and whom he may cast down or even devour. 
Therefore, be vigilant ; live in the fear of God ; 
build upon His grace alone, and in Him repose thy 
trust and confidence! And let that which Jesus 
spake in the garden to Peter, James and John, 
" Watch and pray, that ye enter not into tempta- 
tion," be spoken also unto thee, that thou mayest 
neither snore nor be falsely secure, as though there 


were no danger and no need for fear from hence- 
forth, but that thou mayest watch and be sober, not 
doubting that thy arch-enemy is close at hand, yea, 
that thou bearest him in thy bosom ! Thou wouldst, 
therefore, be lost, should God not stand by thee 
with His Holy Spirit. Thou canst neither govern 
nor restrain thyself one single hour. Therefore, 
say : I will pray God to give me His Holy Spirit, 
that He may rule and rightly lead me, and either 
ward off disturbance and temptation, or else gra- 
ciously succor me and suffer me not to fall ! This 
is the first point presented by our narrative. Under 
this head, however, appropriately comes the solemn 
admonition of the Lord, given in the 21. chapter of 
Luke : "Take heed to yourselves, lest at auy time 
your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and 
drunkenness ;" for we are just as ill-bred as the 
brute, which, when well fed, shows its insolence. 
He who has plenty and to spare, readily forgets 
God and His Word, or else cares very little for 
them ; and then, before he knows it, he is entan- 
gled in the devil's net. Therefore, wouldst thou be 
out of danger, observe these three things : fear God, 
be watchful and sober, and pray without ceasing! 
For, although we must still feel temptation's thrusts, 
and sometimes fall because of weakness, God, 
through His Holy Spirit, will lift us up again, and 
not suffer us to remain victims of temptation. 

In the second place, we find consolation in this 
narrative. Here we clearly see the fruit of our 
Lord Jesus' sufferings; and Peter's conduct plainly 
pictures to us not only the grace and mercy of God, 
but also the way in which grace may be regained 
by us when lost in unrighteousness and sin. Terri- 


ble and heinous is the fall of Peter; as such he 
feels it most forcibly, and, therefore, he cannot 
longer bear to mingle with men, but steals away 
and weops bitterly. 

But here we find that the Lord not only foretold 
to him his fall, but afterwards also received him 
into favor without punishing him as his sin had 
deserved. For on Easter, before the Lord Jesus 
had shown Himself, the angel who was at the grave 
commanded the women to announce to His disci- 
ples, and to Peter especially, that the Lord had 
risen. And the Lord Himself, soon after He had 
appeared to Magdalene and the other women, 
appeared to Peter and comforted him. This all 
works together for our consolation, teaching us not 
to banish from our hearts confidence in God's grace, 
though we may have fallen, but, seeing how the 
Lord deals with Peter, to be assured that He has 
died on our account, and that His sufferings shall 
bring us consolation and assistance, although we 
are poor sinners. For if sinners are not to have 
the benefit of the sufferings of Christ, then would 
He have rejected His disciples, and particularly 
Peter, first of all, and nevermore have interested 
Himself for them, because they were all offended 
because of Him, fled from Him, and so shamefully 
denied Him. But the merciful Lord does not so ; 
they are still His dear disciples, notwithstanding 
that they disgraced their calling. Let us mark this 
and apply it to our hearts for consolation; for thus 
will our gracious God also deal with us. 

But, say you, what becomes of poor Judas? Do 
we not see him cut off from all grace? Although 


we shall come to speak of this hereafter, it is still 
necessary for us, in this connection, to know what 
it was that furthered and preserved Peter, and what 
it was that subjected Judas to impediments and 
despair, so that Peter's case may teach us how to 
take care of ourselves and how to beware of that 
which befell Judas. Now we must make a distinc- 
tion between Peter and Judas with reference to the 
heinousness of their crimes. For, while both trans- 
gress the will of God and subject themselves to 
everlasting condemnation, Judas' sin is greater than 
that of Peter. Judas surrenders to sin voluntarily 
and with premeditation, and, notwithstanding the 
Lord's frequent and fervent warnings, prefers his 
sins above Christ's love. This is not the case with 
Peter; his sin was accidental, not deliberate and 
malicious; his denial of Christ was the result of 
casual diffidence or weakness. Had he apprehended 
this result, he would not have entered the house of 
Caiaphas. Then, there is this further distinction 
between Peter and Judas, that the former, unlike 
the latter, is not the enemy of Christ and does not 
hate Him; that he does not run counter to the 
Lord, like the latter, with such wanton scorn, 
hatred and obstinacy that no exhortation to peni- 
tence and no favor of the Lord can influence him 
to repent; but that, before he considers and per- 
ceives what he is doing, through fear and weakness 
he is so overcome that he denies his dear Lord and 
begins to curse and to swear. 

Let us mark well the aforenamed distinction in 
regard to sins, viz.: that, although both Peter and 
Judas do sin, and thus subject themselves to the 
judgment of God, the sin of Judas is more enormous 


than the sin of Peter. For the Lord subsequently 
makes the difference between Pilate and the Jews, 
saying, Juo. 19., "He that hath delivered me unto 
thee hath the greater sin." This is the reason why 
the conscience of Judas is more painfully wounded 
than Peter's, and his sufferings are more severe; 
the burden borne by Judas is by far the heavier and 
the more oppressive. Nevertheless, Peter's sin had 
deserved death, as well as that of Judas. 

This distinction is justified also by St. Paul, who 
says of his persecuting Christ and His believers 
that he had done this in ignorance, and that, 
although his work of persecution was a damnable, 
mortal sin, it was still not at all to be compared 
with the persecutions carried on by the chief priests 
and Pharisees. This difference deserves to be dili- 
gently regarded, so that we may beware of such 
wanton and malicious sins as of a most grievous 
burden, and therefore watch that we do not obsti- 
nately persevere in impenitence. Now, although 
sins may be classified according to the degree of 
their criminality, and although no doubt exists 
that the greater the sin, the greater the consequent 
torment of conscience; still, when a man has ob- 
tained knowledge of his sins and is terrified by the 
wrath of God, he must not judge the measure of 
forgiveness and grace by the enormity or number 
of his sins. All sins, even the least, are so great 
and serious that we are not able to estimate their* 
heinousness ; yea, so great that we could not endure 
one of them, were it adequately seen and felt by us. 
Besides, Satan can so magnify a sin, though it be 
not the greatest, that the timid, fearful soul which 
is guilty of it supposes that no one else on earth 


has ever committed so grievous a crime. Therefore, 
we must know and hold fast the Gospel doctrine ol 
the grace and kindness of the Son of God ; for this 
tells us that grace is mightier than all sin. It is 
the great object of God's Word and promises that 
no one may despond or despair on account of sin 
but that all may trust in the grace of God through 
His only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus. 

On this point Judas and Peter differ. Judas 
looks only at the enormity of his sins, falls into 
despair, thinks that all eternity can afford him 
neither counsel nor aid, and then the poor fellow 
goes and hangs himself. And why? Simply be- 
cause he had despised God's Word and had not 
been bettered by it. When he now stood in need 
of consolation, but did not have the Word and 
desired not to turn to the Lord Jesus in faith, he 
was beyond all reach of help. Peter also wept 
bitterly, and feared and trembled on account of his 
sins, but he had more diligently heard and better 
remembered the Word of the Lord Jesus. There- 
fore, when he now finds himself in distress, he 
makes use of the Word, thinks of that which Christ 
has told him, clings to this, consoles himself with 
it, and hopes that God will be merciful to him. In 
such misery this is the true relief, which poor Judas 
lacked. But that this was really the course Peter 
took, and that he did abide by God's Word and 
grace, the Lord testifies in the 22. chapter of Luke, 
saying: "I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail 
not." While he was denying Christ, we do not see 
that there was a spark of faith in his heart; but 
afterwards, w r hen his conscience was aroused and he 
was tortured by it, his faith returned, preserving to 


him this Word of Christ, and preventing him from 
falling into despair. 

Let us then learn here what true repentance is. 
Peter "wept bitterly." In this way repentance 
begins ; the heart must truly perceive sin and be 
sincerely sorry for it, so that our delight in it, our 
love for it, and our living in it may cease. Our 
having disobeyed God's will and sinned, must be 
for us a source of heartfelt affliction. 

Our might, however, cannot bring this about; 
but the Lord calls us to repent and makes His face 
to shine again upon us, just as He here calls and 
admonishes Peter by the crowing of the cock, of 
which He had told him before, and by turning and 
looking upon him. For we are by nature so dis- 
posed that we delight in sin and take pleasure in 
committing it continually. We see this in the case 
of Peter ; for, after he had denied Christ once, he 
still keeps on until he has denied Him thrice, and 
cursed and sworn : "I do not know the man," 
being concerned about nothing. But when the 
cock crows and the Lord turns to look upon him, 
Peter immediately pauses and considers what he 
has done. !N~ow, according to our nature and to 
the nature of sin, sin cannot help but terrify us, 
threaten us with God's wrath, and fill our hearts 
with anguish, as was the case with both Peter and 
Judas. Judas, when he perceived his sin, became 
so uneasy that he did not know what to do with 
himself. And Peter's agony was so great that it 
compelled him to flee from his fellow-men and give 
vent to his grief in tears, of which he could not 
shed enough. 


"Wheu we feel such terror and anguish our best 
course is, first, to humble ourselves before God and 
freely confess our sins : God, I am indeed a poor, 
miserable sinner, and, shouldst Thou depart from 
me with Thy grace, am able only to sin ; and then, 
to abide God's Word and promises, adding : "But 
be merciful to me for the sake of Thy Son, Jesus 
Christ !" When the soul thus seeks to console 
itself with God's Word, and sincerely trusts that 
God, for His Son's sake, will be merciful, then 
must the anguish abate and comfort surely follow. 
True and complete repentance, then, is this : to be 
terrified and humbled by sin, and to find comfort 
in the Lord Jesus and His sufferings through faith. 

Thus, no doubt, Peter consoled himself with the 
word spoken to him by the Lord at the passover : 
"Satan hath desired to have you, but I have prayed 
for thee, that thy faith fail not," Luke 22. For, 
although his heart was filled with anxiety and sor- 
row, he did not despair like Judas. True, at first 
this consolation was as small as a grain of mustard- 
seed. But since the ground, on which this little 
consolation rested, was God's own Word and prom- 
ises, it increased wonderfully, and when Peter met 
Christ again, on holy Easter-day, it had grown so 
great that all terrors and all doubts had fled, and 
nothing remained except heart-felt humility, with 
which to confess his weakness and cheerfully to 
acknowledge himself a sinner. Sin was not able to 
leave aught in Peter's heart except this weakness 
and this confession. This consolation, like a mighty 
deluge, suffocated, yea, quenched the fire that had 
threatened to consume his heart. Since, therefore, 
we cannot live without temptation, we should pre- 


pare for it in time, and especially with diligence 
hear God's Word, and practice and remember it, so 
that consolation, like Peter's, may be ours in time 
of sorrow. 

Thus we find that this example of St. Peter is 
given us for instruction and for consolation. We 
should learn from it, first, to flee false security and 
to live in the fear of God; for it is an easy matter 
even for great saints terribly to fall. But, secondly, 
we must also learn from this example to cling to 
God's Word, and to draw comfort from it, even 
when we have fallen, so that we may not, like 
Judas, despair on account of sin. For God does 
not wish any one to exalt himself on account of his 
endowments, for which reason we all should fear, 
watch and pray ; neither does He, on the other 
hand, wish any one to be driven into despair by his 
sins. The Son of God became man and died upon 
the cross for the very purpose of banishing such 
evils. Therefore, if thou wouldst be a true Chris- 
tian, fear God and confide in His grace and Word, 
and thou shalt always find consolation, deliverance 
and help. May our dear Father in Heaven, through 
His Holy Spirit, grant this to us all, for the sake of 
our blessed Lord and Saviour. Amen. 


Christ is Delivered to Pilate. — Judas Hangs Him- 
self. — The Potter's Field. 

Matt. 27, 1-10 When the morning was come, all the chief priests 
and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put Him to 
death : and when they had bound Him. they led Him away, and 
delivered Him to Pontius Pilate the governor. Then Judas, which 
had betrayed Him. when he saw that He was condemned, repented 
himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief 
priests and elders, saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the 
innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. 
And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, 
and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the silver 
pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, 
because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, aDd bought 
with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that 
field was called, The field of blood, unto thii, day. Then was fulfilled 
that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took 
the thirty pieces of silver, the price of Him that was valued, whom 
they of the children of Israel did value ; and gave them for the pot- 
ter's field, as the Lord appointed me. 

I< ^j|f~| ou have heard, my friends, how the Lord 
'llisl J esus was fi rst l e d to Annas, who then sent 
Him bound to Caiaphas, where the chief priests 
and scribes were assembled, and where these latter 
and the entire council sought false witness against 
Him, and finally falsely accused Him of blasphemy, 
for which, they said, He ought to die. We expect 
to speak further on this hereafter. 

Next we find Him brought before Pilate; we 
shall see what happened there. But before we 
speak of this, we ought to know what was, after all, 
the reason why the chief spiritual and temporal 
rulers at Jerusalem were so hio-hly incensed and 


imbittered against the Lord that they flock together 
by night, make inquisition concerning Him at an 
unseasonable hour, and are in such uneasy haste to 
have Him destroyed, at the same time being unable 
to allege aught against Him except invented lies. 
It would be too lengthy, however, to relate all this 
now ; eacli one can read it for himself in the history 
written by the four Evangelists, or learn it during 
the year from the preaching of the Word at Church. 
The Lord Jesus excuses neither the doctrine nor 
the life of these men, but censures both severely. 
Thus He calls them "an evil and adulterous genera- 
tion," a "generation of vipers," and not the children 
of God, which they boast themselves to be, but "the 
children of the devil," because they can neither 
speak, teach, nor do that which is good. And 
shortly previous to this time, before He was taken, 
He gave them a final rebuke, calling down upon 
them, Matt. 23., the eight times uttered "woe !" 
And this it was that enkindled their hatred into 
such consuming flames, that lent cruelty to their 
enmity, and that made them so impetuous in the 
pursuit of their object, that Christ, being now in 
their power, had no opportunity to escape. Still, 
in order to give their savage, murderous hatred a 
plausible appearance, that is, to make it seem that 
their law fully authorized them to kill Christ, the 
high priest, as the Evangelists write, when he heard 
Christ say : "Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man 
sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in 
the clouds of heaven," rent his clothes and said : 
"He hath spoken blasphemy ; w r hat further need 
have w T e of witnesses ? behold, now ye have heard 
His blasphemy. What think ye?" And all the 


others who were present said: "He is guilty of 
death." Soon after this they began to treat the 
dear Lord Jesus most miserably, not one among 
them having compassion on Him, but all of them 
enraged against Him like raving lions. The 22. 
and other Psalms tell us about this. 

One thing, however, was still in their way. They 
knew very well that Pilate would care very little 
for that which they deemed sufficient cause for 
death ; for He was a Gentile and had not received 
command of the Roman Emperor to execute the 
Jews because of their faith, — else he would have 
had to destroy all of them. For this reason they 
assembled when the morning was come, and, as 
Matthew writes, "took counsel against Jesus to put 
Him to death," that is, they considered what accusa- 
tion they would bring against Him before Pilate. 
For they knew well enough that Pilate would not 
slay Christ on account of His having blasphemed in 
the judgment of the Jews. They found it necessary, 
therefore, to devise some specious, civil charge to 
be presented to Pilate, who was a temporal judge. 
For, by saying that Christ was a blasphemer, they 
could not have broken His neck. 

Let us here see and learn how quick and venom- 
ous Satan is when men stand in need of advice how 
to kill Christ ! The first word spoken by Pilate to 
Christ is his question : "Art Thou the king of the 
Jews?" This question clearly shows that, in this 
consultation of the Jews, they had agreed, as stated, 
to accuse the Lord Jesus before Pilate of desiring to 
excite sedition and to set Himself up for the king 
of the Jews. But what ground have they for such 
a charge ? Where has Christ ever called Himself a 


king? Where has He attempted to pass Himself 
off as a lord ? If they had been willing they might, 
on the other hand, have testified how He refused, 
departed and hid Himself, when the people at- 
tempted to take Him by force to make Him a king. 
They might have told too that He had commanded 
them not to keep back from Caesar that which be- 
longed to him, but to render to him his due. ISTow, 
w T e must also consider that Pilate could hardly have 
been satisfied with bare^ accusations, but must cer- 
tainly have demanded proofs. And how were these 
furnished ? No doubt, as follows. They had heard 
Christ confess to the chief priest that He was the 
Christ. Then they took the evidence of the Scrip- 
tures, showing from the Prophets how Christ should 
be a king. For Zechariah says : "Behold thy King 
cometh unto thee; He is just and having salvation, 
<fcc. ;" and Hosea, in his 3. chapter, "They shall 
seek David their king ;" and many other passages 
express the same. Therefore, since the Lord 
acknowledges Himself to be the Christ, He thereby 
acknowledges Himself to be also the king of the 
Jews. Behold, how accurate the researches of the 
devil ! 

But concerning that which goes against them 
and might serve the Lord Jesus, they are silent. 
Where Zechariah says : "Behold thy King cometh 
unto thee; He is just, and having salvation," he 
immediately adds, "lowly," that is, He shall be a 
spiritual King, who shall justify His own that 
believe in Him, and deliver them from death and 
all evil, that they might have consolation through 
Him against sin and God's wrath, — not a temporal 
king having business with money and possessions. 


He implies that God has ordained other kings who 
should control nations and individuals and possess 
opulence and power; but that these kings should 
not impart righteousness and salvation, which gifts 
are brought and bestowed alone by this King, of 
whom the Prophet says, "Behold thy King cometh,' , 
&c. These villains do not mention a syllable of 
this, but the naked idea that Christ had made Him- 
self the king of the Jews is what they dress up for 
Pilate's sight. Thus Pilate, who would not have 
assisted them had their charge not exceeded what 
it was at first, viz., heresy and blasphemy, was 
beguiled into participating in their work. 

Just so it goes to-day ; for civil governments, at 
any rate, usually have the fault that they care very 
little for the kiugdom of God and for religion. 
When kings and princes enjoy allegiance, tribute 
and royal glory, they are careless about everything 
else, and thus are satisfied that Pilate's throne 
should be the only one before which Christ appears. 
But the chief priests and elders of the people, i. e., 
the blood-thirsty mob composed of Pope, cardinal, 
bishops, monks and priests, come and accuse Christ 
before Pilate ; they instigate the temporal author- 
ities, such as emperors, kings an'cl princes against 
the Gospel, as the Jews incited Pilate against Christ, 
saying that it teaches insurrection and that, unless 
its influence is checked in time, every subject will 
become a rebel. They urge the authorities to 
oppose the Gospel with zeal, if they would not 
have prosperity and happiness to forsake their 
scepter. Yea, these bloody, papal asses preach to 
the princes that it is the Gospel's fault that the 
Turk assails us and that we are not more successful 


in repelling him, — that the Gospel must be blamed 
for the great failures in our crops and for our being 
surrounded by misfortunes. By this means they 
arouse Pilate, who otherwise is not at all concerned 
about Christ and His preaching, to expose the 
Lord, and finally to command Him to be nailed to 
the cross. 

Now, it cannot be helped that such falsehoods 
and virulent slander bring about painful results. 
But for this very reason have the Evangelists left 
us this history, so that, when like things come upon 
us, we may patiently bear them, saying, My Lord 
Jesus had to suffer the same. The servant is not 
better than his lord. Pilate would have permitted 
Christ to preach and- perform miracles all His life, 
and would never have thought of interfering ; but 
the high priests, the heartless horde, bring it to 
pass that Pilate as judge and Christ as criminal are 
brought together. 

And so it is still; the Lord Jesus' greatest enemies 
are Pope, cardinal, bishops, monks and priests. 
When they have branded as heresy that which does 
not please them, or that which opposes them, they 
seek to hunt down the Gospel through worldly 
potentates ; these latter must be their executioners 
and must, like Pilate, bedaub themselves with inno- 
cent blood, on the accusation and at the solicitation 
of these enemies. Pious Christian, bear it all ! 
With thy Lord Jesus too they sported thus. 
Therefore, give thanks to God that thou art counted 
worthy to suffer for His name, as Luke tells us, in 
the 5. chapter of Acts, that the Apostles did ! So 
much for the first part of our text. 


The second part relates the terrible example of 
Judas. This the Evangelists so diligently portray 
that we may, as in a picture, recognize the peculiar 
character and nature of sin, and learn to shun it. 
For in Judas' case we see both how silently sin at 
first creeps in, but also how it afterwards causes 
such a horrible end. 

We have heard, on a former occasion, what a 
seemingly small beginning this monstrous sin of 
Judas had, viz., that it began with his natural 
avarice and love of money. But its real fountain- 
head we find in Judas' being such a godless hpyo- 
crite and such a wicked, desperate despiser of God. 
Thus, when the opportunity to make money out of 
the Lord Jesus presented itself, he regarded it a 
trifling matter to betray his innocent Lord and 
Master. Besides, he thinks it quite a prize that he 
can so soon possess himself of such an amount of 
money. At the Last Supper the Lord admonishes 
Judas so pointedly and so often, that he could not 
have misunderstood Him. But let the Lord preach 
to him and warn him ever so faithfully, it is all in 
vain; Judas does not lose sight of his object; his 
heart is riveted to the thirty pieces of silver ! 
"What a faithful, stern and earnest warning was not 
that which the Lord Jesus gave him, saying : k 'He 
that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same 
shall betray me ;" again: "The Son of man goeth 
as it is written of Him ; but woe unto that man by 
whom the Son of man is betrayed ! It had been 
good for that man if he had not been born !" 
Should not Judas have taken these words to heart ? 
Should he not have repented, saying : Great God, 
what have I not Buffered the devil to put into my 


soul, miserable fellow that I am ! But he does 
nothing of the kind ; on the contrary, when he is 
so faithfully warned, he even asks whether his in- 
tentions are known. He puts the question : "Mas- 
ter, is it I?" The Lord answers him: "Thou hast 
said," i. e., yes, thou art he. But this matter, as 
already said, gave him no care nor trouble, because 
it was the means by which he could obtain so much 

This should be remembered ; for if we wish a 
correct picture of sin it must be painted as seeming 
at first sight an indifferent, simple thing, which is 
not at all dangerous. In committing sin men do 
not concern themselves about God's wrath ; they 
fear no misfortune and they regard sin not as a 
burden, but as a little feather which a breath can 
balance in the air or drive away. Therefore, when 
sin assails us we do not fear it; yea, we rejoice in it 
and love it, and we even think that the more we 
can sin in doing our work, the better our work 
shall be done. Suppose we illustrate this by the 
case of an avaricious usurer, an adulterer or a 
drunkard. Upon such Paul passes an appalling 
judgment, when he says, 1 Cor. 6: "Be not deceived; 
neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, 
nor covetous, nor drunkards shall inherit the king- 
dom of God." This terrible decree is written here,, 
is preached too, and the very ones who are subject 
to such vices get to hear it ; but they accept it no 
more than Judas accepted it. Could they only 
dispose of their property so as to make it yield them 
twenty or thirty per cent ; could only their evil 
desires be satisfied ; could they only have gay com- 
panions every clay and be jolly and drunk every 


night, — then would they think themselves very 
fortunate and, neither caring for nor grieving over 
the judgment pronounced upon them, be in good 
spirits and perfectly merry. 

This is spoken for the common people who 
grossly tread in Judas' footsteps. But exceedingly 
dreadful it is that to-day the Pope and his minions 
persecute and condemn God's Word, the acknowl- 
edged truth, invent many base and blasphemous 
lies against this Word, and induce worldly potent- 
ates to use their power against it and to exterminate 
the truth of God and all who hold it, so that Judas r 
trade may be made to flourish as formerly. And 
then they are so utterly blind and obdurate that 
their conscience does not trouble them, and that, 
they think it would be an excellent thing to over- 
flow this land with blood. What blindness, — what 
diabolical enmity against Christ's Word and the 
true Church ! But more of this hereafter. 

Adam preached the same thing to Cain, his son, 
and warned him against sin, when he perceived 
what hatred there was in his heart toward his 
brother Abel. He says to him, Gen. 4 : "If thou 
doest well, shalt thou not be accepted ? and if thou 
doest not well, sin lieth at the door." By this he 
meant to say : Make thyself well acquainted with 
sin; for when it attacks a man it always is as a 
wild, rapacious beast, which pretends to be asleep 
and lets men handle and stroke it; no one fears 
and no one is hurt. Even as innocent as this does 
sin seem. It is a smooth, pretty kitten, which per- 
mits itself to be played with and caressed. But be 
careful, saith Adam; it sleeps, indeed, but will not 


sleep forever. Why not? Because it "lieth at the 
door," in a public place, where every one comes 
and goes; nothing easier, therefore, than that it 
should awake. And then it will be a furious lion, 
an angry bear, tearing to pieces and destroying all 
in its way. Now, as Adam had foretold to Cain, 
so it came. Adam commanded him to conquer sin, 
and not let sin rule and lead him. But Cain gave 
no heed; he let sin have its own way; he slew his 
brother. Sin did not rest long here; its sleep was 
soon over, and then it tortured Cain until he did 
not know where to stay. He dared not remain with 
his father and mother, and besides, had fears for his 
body and his life. 

Let us mark well this second characteristic of 
sin ! At first it sleeps and seems a trifling, harmless 
thing. But it sleeps not long, and when it awakes 
it becomes a grievous burden which we cannot bear 
without God's special help. This we see in the 
case of the traitor Judas. While sin rested, it was 
impossible for him to fear; the glossy fur deceived 
him so, that he did not perceive the sharp, poison- 
ous claws. But its rest could not last a great while, 
for it lay at the door where it could be easily waked. 
Where all pleading and all admonition failed before, 
now a single moment comes and drives such terror 
to his soul that he knows not what to do. For 
when he sees the Lord led to Pilate he fears that 
the Lord's life is imperiled, is sorry, and now per- 
ceives, for the first time, what he has done. Now 
sin awakes and, according to its natural way, acts 
with such fury and horror that he cannot bear it, 
Before, he so loved the thirty pieces of silver that, 
for the sake of having them, Jie could betray and 


sell the Lord Jesus without a pang ; now, the mat^ 
ter stands reversed. If he now had the money and 
wealth of all the world, he would give it all to save 
the Lord Jesus' life. Since it was love of money 
that made him so miserable, and his purpose to 
possess it that brought this sin upon him, he now 
hates money so, that he has neither rest nor peace 
in its possession, but runs after the high priests 
into the temple, confesses that he has done wrong, 
and offers to give them back the money if the} 7 will 
only liberate Jesus. And when the chief priests 
will not do this, to get rid of the money at all 
events he casts it down at their feet. Now, this is 
the peculiar character of sin ; when it awakes it so 
violently attacks conscience and preaches a sermon 
of such horrors that the frightened heart knows not 
what to do and what not to do. And sin inflicts 
the further calamity, that, as little as is the consola- 
tion which the poor creature finds in himself, so 
little too is the comfort he derives from others. 
Judas honestly tells the chief priests his troubles. 
Alas, he says, "I have sinned, — I have betrayed the 
innocent blood !" But how do they console him ? 
"What is that to us?' see thou to that," they tell 
him. They shove everything over to the shoulders 
of Judas, and let the intolerable load lie there, 
unwilling in the least to help the poor, frightened 
soul with words of consolation or of counsel. 

Now follows the third and last calamity. For 
when it so happens that sin persists in castigating 
conscience, the devil does not loiter, but pokes and 
blows the fire until the red flames rage within, and 
all attempts at rescue seem vain. In such fear 
and agony Judas is urged on by Satan until he 


goes out quickly, and in his misery bangs himself. 
Xow, this is the end which Satan from the begin- 
ning sought to bring about by sin. He who could, 
at the beginning, consider and credit this end, 
would surely pray and guard against it. But it is 
hidden; sin is very quiet, and does not disclose in 
the start what its final object is. So much for the 
history of poor, unhappy Judas, who for a trifle 
sold the Lord Jesus, and who not only did not enjoy 
this money, but also lost on its account body, life, 
soul and salvation. 

Therefore, study well this example, and let its 
memory nevermore depart; for it is to help me and 
you and all of us to an accurate knowledge of sin, 
and to serve us as a shield against it. If we do not 
mark this example and learn from it to know sin, 
we are liable to be deceived by sin and are exposed 
to the damage which it does. For, in the first 
place, it is the nature of sin so to flatter and please 
the old Adam that he delights in it and loves it; 
but this lasts only until sin awakes. Then, in the 
second place, follow trouble, toil, fear, danger, ter- 
rors, tremblings, despair and, finally, eternal death. 
Let us recognize these two features of sin from the 
case of Judas, and not suffer ourselves to be deluded 
like the world, which accepts neither instruction 
nor reproof, being deceived by sin's beautiful, fair 
and cheerful countenance ! Many a citizen, peasant 
and nobleman knows how to make an easy living. 
If he has anything for sale, he tries to get the 
highest price. When he buys, he tries to buy as 
cheap as possible. He is not content with what his 
houses have brought him hitherto, but raises the 
rent. And When he disposes of money, wheat or 


other commodities, he has an e} T e to his hest in- 
terests. Such a course soothes and pleases our 
Adam's nature. Every one thinks his. shrewdness 
to have "been admirable when he, by some means or 
other, has obtained and laid by in one year, say one, 
two or three hundred dollars, according to the 
nature of his business. Hence we see every one 
pursuing his daily bread, and this with all manner 
of haste. 

This is the very sin of which Judas was guilty in 
the beginning of his career. The world to-day 
does just as Judas did; it does not fear this sin and 
thinks there is. no danger in it. But why ? Simply 
because sin rests and sleeps and rarely shows its 
nature in the start. Sin paints and adorns itself; it 
puts on the mask of beauty and of youth ; in this 
way it hides its hideousness. But if we could at 
once unmask it and wash off its paint with strong 
lye, we would run away from it as from the devil, 
^"o one would consent to extortion and addict him- 
self to avarice, if he knew what the consequence 
will be when sin begins to rack the conscience and 
when remorse comes. For the numerous examples 
which we have, prove that people who pursue only 
money and possessions, cannot in the last hour 
abandon their accustomed course of thought. In 
that hour their hearts are closed to all consolation 
from God's Word, for their thoughts are even then 
rambling through the counting-room, the market 
and the warehouse, and engaged with this or that 
debt not yet collected. In short, thorns have so 
enclosed them that they cannot flee ; or else their 
consciences are so molested as to make them totally 
unfit for taking comfort. 


What has been said applies not only to the bag 
of Judas, i. e., avarice, but to all sins. For, no 
matter where it sleeps, sin finally must awake, and 
it always then creates such wretchedness as was 
that of Judas. Still, this is done especially in the 
true disciples of Judas, who, for the sake of money 
and possessions, oppose the Word of God, persecute 
the Gospel, and give occasion for false doctrine and 
idolatry. Such disciples are the Pope, his cardinals, 
bishops, worthless lords, priests, monks, doctors 
and the like, who crowd around Judas' bag and 
fight for it. IsTo wonder, for this bag is not prickly 
and thorny, but its touch is very soft and velvety * 
in other words, the world loudly applauds those 
who have succeeded in securing sufficient means for 
living at ease and in splendor. Besides, it seems a 
trifle to violate the Word of God in this respect or 
that, thus sinning against the acknowledged truth, 
and to act contrary to one's convictions; yea, it 
seems an easy thing for the prebendary who occu- 
pies the cathedral,- and for the minister who moder- 
ates himself, to justify their unwillingness to speak 
the truth openly. For the world and the devil pay 
big wages for such work. But when sin awakes, 
the little, black, rabid dog, Remorse, will surely 
come, and touch and terrify tlry conscience so, that 
thou shalt find consolation nowhere, and thus be 
hurled into despair by the machinations of the devil. 
Then shalt thou have received the same reward with 

It were well, therefore, to consider this danger in 
time, to forego bishoprics, canonries, Epicureanism 
and the like, to resolve to be a Christian, to further 
and confess God's Word, and to walk before God 


with a clear conscience. Even if we had no super- 
abundance of bread, God would still give us our 
daily bread and not suffer us to starve, for He says : 
"Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these 
things shall be added unto you." 

The following, therefore, is what this history 
teaches. Since sin, at first, is quiet and sleeps, but 
afterward awakes and fills conscience with all 
misery, by which Satan then drives his victims into 
despair, we should beware of sin, do nothing against 
our better knowledge and, besides, ask God daily, 
yea, every moment, for His Holy Spirit, that He 
may not lead us into temptation, but mercifully 
save us from falling and shield us from sin. It has 
already been stated that we are not apprehensive of 
the evil results of sin, because sin is not awake in 
the beginning, but sleeps, and that deception and 
ruin, therefore, are very near us. For this reason 
we ought to pray without ceasing, and be very 
careful everywhere, so that sin may not steal upon 
us unawares. 

But when the fall has occurred and we have been 
deceived, and when sin, which slept at first, now 
awakes, appears to us and upbraids us, we must be 
prepared for this encounter, and from the example 
of Judas we can learn how to be prepared. For 
how clearly do we not see what was the matter 
with Judas ! Satan converted his sin into a mount- 
ain so huge and lofty that it shut out from his sight 
God, together with His Word, His promises and His 
mercy ; hence, he simply despairs. Now, when we 
trace this confusion back to its origin, can we deny 
that Judas could have consoled himself even in 
such great distress, had he not set at naught God's 


Word, but more eagerly studied and obeyed it? 
Having always despised and neglected the Word, is 
it to be wondered at that now, when he stands in 
need of its comfort and aid he must do without them? 
Therefore, as we must, on the one hand, guard our- 
selves, with godliness and constant prayer, against 
sleeping sin, so that we may not be deceived and 
seduced ; so also, on the other hand, when sin 
a/wakes, and chastises and disturbs us, we must 
defend and support ourselves with the Holy Gospel. 
This Gospel shows us Christ as Him who suffered 
and made satisfaction for the sins of the whole 
world. And in this Gospel we find that God, the 
Almighty Creator and Father, desires not the death 
of a sinner ; but that He does desire the sinner to 
return and live, that is, to acknowledge and lament 
his sins and to hope for forgiveness through the 
Lord Jesus. But Judas had not these Gospel gifts ; 
hence he despaired. 

Again, Peter also fell shamefully, and experienced 
such pangs as those of Judas. Sin slept at first ; in 
other words, his denying Christ did not seem spe- 
cially dangerous to Peter ; but it finally awakes and 
so torments his heart that he cannot sufficiently 
bewail his fall, or, as the Evangelists have it, "He 
went out and wept bitterly." But why is it that 
Peter does not hang himself like Judas ? Simply 
because Peter, no doubt, remembered the Word of 
the Lord Jesus; this saved him. He must have 
remembered that the Lord had prophesied to him 
that he should fall, and also that He had comforted 
him, saying, as we read Luke 22., "Simon, Simon, 
behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he 
may sift you as wheat : but I have prayed for thee, 


that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, 
strengthen thy brethren." 

This sermon Peter heard and kept. This Word 
was the staff that supported him; sin could not 
now crush him to earth ; had it been otherwise, sin 
would have done with him as it did with Judas. 
God's Word saved him. 0, learn this well, and 
thus be prepared for like emergencies ; hear God's 
Word frequently ; never go to bed and never rise 
from sleep without repeating one, "two, three or 
four of its beautiful passages ! 

Christ says, Matt. 9 : "I am not come to call the 
righteous, but sinners to repentance." Matt. 11 : 
"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy 
laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke 
upon you, and learn of me ; for I am meek and 
lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." 
Jno. 3 : "For God so loved the world, that He gave 
His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in 
Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 
For God sent not His Son into the world to con- 
demn the world; but that the world through Him 
might be saved. He that believeth on Him is not 
condemned." Again, Jno. 3: "The Father loveth 
the Son, and hath given all things into His hand. 
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life : 
and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life : 
but the wrath of God abideth on him." Jno. 5 : 
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my 
word and believeth on Him that sent me, hath ever- 
lasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, 
but is passed from death unto life." Jno. 11 : "I 
am the resurrection, and the life: he that balievett 


oti me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." 
1 Jno. 2: "If any man sin, we have an advocate 
with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous : and 
He is the propitiation for our sins : and not for 
ours only, hut also for the sins of the whole world." 
If we daily practice such and similar passages, and 
by practicing familiarize ourselves with them, we 
then possess the infallible remedy for all spiritual 
ailments. But unhappy Judas had not this remedy 
at hand. 

We have more such examples. Dreadful was 
the fall of David ; his was a more heinous sin than 
were the sins which king Saul committed in the 
beginning of his apostasy. How, then, are we to 
account for it that Saul cuts his throat, while David 
finds deliverance? Saul had not God's Word; 
therefore, when sin raged and reproached him, he 
could not defend himself; for he had nothing on 
which to lay hold. Sin, when it awaked, reproached 
David also, and with such severity that he himself 
pronounced his judgment, saying, that he had 
deserved to die. But in this time of need he holds 
to the word of the prophet Nathan, who tells him 
that God is gracious, and that He will not impute 
to him his sin. Let us, then, learn well this second 
lesson taught us here, viz., not only to shun sin, 
but also, when sin awakes, to be able to contend 
with it and to protect ourselves. But during our 
whole life we must prepare for such distress, equip- 
ping ourselves with the Word of God, else we shall 
have no aid nor counsel, as Judas' case shows 
plainly. How Judas rejoiced at first over the thirty 
pieces of silver ! They were in his sight as a 
meadow mown, for sin rested not. But when sin 


awoke, these thirty pieces of silver became a burden 
which he could not bear, and so, to relieve his con- 
science of this load, he hanged himself. All he 
effected by this means, however, was, that he had 
to bear the burden in eternity. Of such an end 
beware ; do not let sin creep in ; live in the fear of 
God; keep conscience clear, and attentively hear 
God's Word : then consolation shall be thine in 
need of every kind ! 

The Evangelists further relate that the chief 
priests took counsel about the thirty pieces of silver. 
They would not put them into the treasury, but 
bought with them the potter's field, of which they 
made a burial-place for strangers. The prophecy, 
of which this was the fulfillment, does not appear 
remarkable. However, since the Evangelist takes 
the pains to quote that which the prophet Zechariah 
had predicted long before, the prophecy cannot be 
meaningless, but must have its peculiar significa- 
tion. The following is, no doubt, its proper expla- 

The citizens of Jerusalem had their cemeteries, 
while strangers, as we see here, had none. Now, 
in the true Jerusalem, the Christian Church, we 
find that the Jews, according to the 147. Psalm, are 
God's people : "He showeth His Word unto Jacob." 
But to us Gentiles, who are strangers, the kingdom 
of God does not belong; for the same Psalm con- 
tinues to sing : "He hath not dealt so with any 
nation," &c. But the thirty pieces of silver, for 
which our dear Lord Jesus was sold, have bought 
a burial-place for us pilgrims too ; that is, the inno- 
cent sufferings and death of Christ have blessed us 
Gentiles also with the hope of everlasting life. For 


the Lord had to bleed and die in consequence of 
being sold for thirty pieces of silver. Therefore, 
the Evangelist teaches us from the Prophets that 
we should not forget for whom the Lord was sold, 
for whom He suffered, and for whom He died. It 
was not alone for His people, to whom He had been 
promised, but also for us Gentiles, who before had 
no final resting-place in the true Jerusalem. Those 
thirty pieces of silver, which Judas received for 
Christ, have bought us a share in the acre of our 
God. ^ow we shall be laid into that glorious 
grave, bed-chamber magnificent, from which our 
Lord Jesus will call us forth on the judgment-day, 
when He shall also give us everlasting joy. May 
our dear Father in heaven grant us this through 
His Holy Spirit. Amen. 


Christ Accused before Pilate and Condemned 
to Death. 

Matt. 21, 11-31. And Jesus stood before the governor: and the 
governor asked Him, saying, Art Thou the King of the Jews? And 
Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest And when He was accused of the 
chief priests and elders, He answered nothing. Then said Pilate unto 
Him, Hearest Thou not how many things they witness against Thee? 
And He answered him to never a word ; insomuch that the governor 
marvelled greatly. Now at that feast the governor was wont to 
release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. And they had 
then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. Therefore when they were 
gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release 
unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? For he knew 
that for envy they had delivered Him. When he was set down on the 
judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to 
do with that just man : for I have suffered many things this day in a 
dream because of Him. But the chief priests and elders persuaded the 
multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. The 
governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye 
that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. Pilate saith unto 
them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They 
all say unto him, Let Him be crucified. And the governor said, 
Why, what evil hath He done? But they cried out the more, saying, 
Let Him be crucified . When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, 
but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his 
hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this 
just person : see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, 
His blood be on us, and on our children. Then released he Barabbas 
unto them : and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be 
crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the com- 
mon hall, and gathered unto Him the whole band of soldiers. And 
they stripped Him, and put on Him a scarlet robe. And when they 
had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon His head, and a reed 
in His right hand ; and they bowed the knee before Him, and mocked 
Him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews ! And they spit upon Him, and 
took the reed, and smote Him on the head. And after that they had 
mocked Him, they took the robe off from Him, and put His own rai- 
ment on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him. 


Mn a recent sermon you heard, dear friends, how 
the Lord Jesus was tried before the chief 
priest. We are now ready to learn what happened 
Him after He was delivered to Pilate. Each Evan- 
gelist has his own way of relating these things and 
does not go into all the details, but one states this, 
another that, for which reason it is necessary to 
compile the items stated by each, and then to relate 
these items in their historical order. 

The first item is furnished by the Evangelist 
John, who says that when, early in the morning, 
they led Jesus from the palace of Caiaphas unto 
the hall of judgment, they themselves went not in, 
lest they should be defiled and become disqualified 
to eat the passover. Since they were required to 
separate themselves from those as unclean who 
accidentally entered a house in which some one 
had died, they concluded that it might defile them 
to go into the judgment hall, in which the sentence 
of death was pronounced. It did not occur to these 
blind people that it was a far greater sin to shed 
innocent blood. Such holiness prevails among our 
Papists too, who think that eating flesh on Friday 
or eggs in the passion- week is a much greater sin 
than to persecute and strangle poor Christians for 
the Gospel's sake. They go about the latter with 
hearts as light as though it were a trifle. But 
about the former, which is do sin at all, but merely 
a human prohibition, they are exceedingly con- 
scientious. Since these holy people refuse to go 
into the hall of judgment, Pilate was constrained to 
go out to them. He asked them : "What accusa- 
tion bring ye against this man ?" Impudently and 


with arrogance they reply : "If He were not a male- 
factor, we would not have delivered Him up unto 
thee." Just as if they were so upright and pious 
that we should not suppose them capable of under- 
taking anything wrong! But Pilate meets them 
nobly when he says: "Take ye Him, and judge 
Him according to your law." This was as much as 
sayiug: It is not customary with us Romans to 
judge a man without first trying him; but if you 
Jews think it is right to do so, why, you may take 
and kill Him, but I will not. Thus we clearly see 
that the Jews, after they had taken all necessary 
counsel, still have no confidence in themselves ; 
they fear that their accusation will not stand the 
test. Nevertheless, they are unwilling to accept 
Pilate's decision without a reply, for it stung them 
to the quick, and therefore they answer : "It is not 
lawful for us to put any man to death." This 
meant: If we had the authority to do this, we 
should not have called on you ; but the Emperor 
has taken criminal jurisdiction away from us and 
confided it to you ; therefore, act according to your 

John adds here : "That the saying of Jesus might 
be fulfilled, which He spake, signifying what death 
He should die." For, as we read Matthew 20. and 
Luke 17., Christ had foretold to His disciples that 
He should be delivered to the Gentiles. For the 
sake, however, of having a charge to make, Ihey 
accused Him, as Luke writes, in these words : "We 
found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbid- 
ding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that He Him- 
self is Christ a king." Here we hear why they 
delivered Him to Pilate. But the account suffi- 


ciently shows how basety they belie our dear Lord. 
Christ could, indeed, have strongly confuted them 
by referring them to His words : "Render therefore 
unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto 
God the things that are God's;" but what good 
would it have done ? He had to sutler Himself to 
be accused of being a rebel, of turning the nation 
away from the Emperor, of forbidding the paying 
of tribute, and of desiring to be a king. 

Just so, at this day, the Pope, cardinals, bishops, 
monks and priests calumniate the holy Gospel, 
charging it with teaching sedition, and saying that 
unless it is opposed the temporal power will come 
into disrepute and no one will respect it. But let 
this not offend thee; thank God that thou know T est 
that they, the desperate miscreants, most invidious 
foes of the Lord Jesus and most malignant blas- 
phemers of Christ's Gospel, lie ! For the Gospel 
deals with other and loftier things : it teaches how 
we can be freed from sin and attain to eternal life, 
alone by believing in the Son of God. This is the 
character of the instructions given us by the Gospel ; 
it does not meddle with worldly things, leaves these 
so to remain as God has already disposed of them 
by means of the temporal government, and exhorts 
to obedience to this government. 

When Pilate now had heard the accusation, he 
was in no haste to act upon it, but, as John says, 
entered into the judgment hall again, ordered Jesus 
to be brought before him and asked Him, saying : 
"Art Thou the king of the Jews ?" Jesus answered 
him : "Say est thou this thing of thyself, or did 
others tell it. thee of me?" As though He would 
say : 0, if my enemies would acquit me, you would 


soon do so too ; for I know that yon do not iegard 
me as a king nor as one who would be likely to 
make an uproar. 

"Pilate answered: Am I a Jew? Thine own 
nation and the chief priests have delivered Thee 
unto me; what hast Thou done? Jesus answered, 
My kingdom is not of this world ; if my kingdom 
were of this world, then would my servants fight, 
that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but 
now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate there- 
fore said unto Him, Art Thou a king then ? Jesus 
answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this 
end was I born, and for this cause came I into the 
world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. 
Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. 
Pilate saith unto Him, what is truth?" As if he 
would say : If Thou art a king sent to bear witness 
unto the truth, we have no reason to fear Thee ; 
for, with this as Thy object, Thou wilt not injure 
the Emperor. The proud Gentile meant to say, in 
other words : Truth is not the cause of a great deal 
of strife. And this is only too true, and especially 
in these evil and latter days does truth go begging. 
It is deceitfulness, fraud, avarice, usury and the 
like that elevate a man in these times. But what 
is gained by these in the end will soon be seen. 

When Pilate had sufficiently examined the Lord, 
he went out again unto the Jews and said : "I find 
in Him no fault at all," — "I have found no fault in 
this man." But the Jews, as Luke relates, "were 
the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, 
teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from 
Galilee to this place. When Pilate heard of Galilee r 
he asked whether the man were a Galilean. And 


us soon as he knew that He belonged unto Herod's 
jurisdiction, lie sent Him to Herod, who himself 
also was at Jerusalem at that time. And when 
Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad; for he 
was desirous to see Him of a long season, because 
he had heard many things of Him ; and lie hoped 
to have seen some miracle clone by Him. Then he 
questioned with Him in many words; but He 
answered him nothing. And the chief priests and 
scribes stood and vehemently accused Him. And 
Herod with his men of war set Him at naught, and 
mocked Him, and arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, 
and sent Him again to Pilate. And the same day 
Pilate and Herod were made friends together ; for 
before they were at enmity between themselves." 

Here some might wonder why the Lord converses 
so with Pilate, giving him all information, but 
refuses to speak one word with Herod, who, besides, 
was king of Galilee. The true reason for this we 
find in Herod's being a totally abandoned scoundrel 
and, at the same time, a great hypocrite. He had 
lately caused John the Baptist to be beheaded, and 
lived a life of public scandal by having his brother 
Philip's wife, and still pretended to be exceedingly 
pious. For this reason the Lord, in the Gospel, 
calls him a fox, — an animal of which the fur is the 
only valuable part, — a ravenous, but still a very 
cunning animal. Such people are not worthy of 
intercourse with others ; they are hypocrite^ who 
adopt holy faces and gentle speech, as it is written 
of Herod in Mark 6., where it says that he "feared 
John, knowing that he was a just man and a holy; 
.... and when he heard him, he did many things, 
and heard him gladly." But such people are not 


in earnest. Scoffers they are, who regard the Gos- 
pel as a fable, and who look upon the Christian as 
a great fool for offending great lords and endanger- 
ing his possessions by his faith. Let every one, 
therefore, avoid such people, and do as Christ here 
did with Herod, have no communication with them. 

This also is worthy of observation here that just 
as Pilate and Herod, who before were enemies, now 
become friends by their contact with Christ the 
Lord, even so do we see men act in our day. Men 
who could not be reconciled among themselves 
before, are harmonious in their opposition to the 
Gospel. One bishop cannot agree with another, 
and one order cannot be friendly toward another 
order. Princes are dissatisfied with each other. 
Each one wishes to be the best, to have the prefer- 
ence, and to oppress and silence all the rest. But 
when Christ comes among them and His Gospel 
shows its might, they all unite, are the best friends 
in the world, and stand together with their goods 
and lives, as David prophesied long ago in the 2. 

After the Lord was brought again from Herod to 
Pilate, "Pilate," so says Luke, "when he had called 
together the chief priests and the rulers and tho 
people, said unto them, Ye have brought this man 
unto me, as one that perverteth the people ; and 
behold, I, having examined Him before you, have 
found no fault in this man touching those things 
whereof ye accuse Him ; no, nor yet Herod ; for I 
sent you to him ; and lo, nothing worthy of death 
is done unto Him. I will therefore chastise Him 
and release Him. (For of necessity he must release 
one unto them at the feast.)" 


"And they had then," says Matthew, as we have 
heard, "a notable prisoner, called Barabbas." Him 
Pilate places before the Jews, together with Christ, 
that the Jews might choose between the two, 
hoping that no one would ask for Barabbas, as he 
was a great rebel and murderer, well worthy of 

"But the chief priests and elders persuaded the 
multitude that they should ask Barabbas." "And," 
so Luke proceeds, "they cried out all at once, say- 
ing, Away with this man and release unto us Bar- 
abbas; (who for a certain sedition made in the city, 
and for murder, was cast into prison.) Pilate, 
therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to 
them. But they cried, saying, Crucify Him, crucify 
Him. And he said unto them the third time, Why, 
what evil hath He done? I have found no cause 
of death in Him; I will therefore chastise Him, and 
let Him go. And they were instant with loud 
voices, requiring that He might be crucified." 

Matthew writes that when Pilate "was set down 
on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, say- 
ing, Have thou nothing to do with that just man; 
for I have suffered many things this day in a dream 
because of Him." 

And this was, indeed, an excellent warning, sent 
perhaps by some good angel, who, in a dream, 
announced to Pilate's wife the misfortunes and 
calamities which Pilate would bring upon himself 
and his house in case he should listen to the Jews 
and, at their command, destroy the innocent Jesus. 
But as admonitions were useless and vain in Judas' 
case, so did they at last avail nothing with Pilate. 
Nevertheless, he resists the Jews for a while. The 


Jews, to whom Christ was promised, wish the most 
villainous murderer to live, bat Him, the Prince ot 
life, they are in haste to slay. Since in this way 
Pilate's proposition to "let Him go" is discouraged, 
Pilate makes still another effort: he takes Jesus 
and scourges Him, as the Evangelists continue to 

"Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus 
into the common hall, and gathered unto Him the 
whole band of soldiers. And they stripped Him," 
"and scourged Him," "and put on Him a scarlet 
robe. And when they had platted a crown of 
thorns, they put it upon His head, and a reed in 
His right hand" instead of a scepter ; "and they 
bowed the knee before Him, and mocked Him," 
"and began to salute Him," "saying, Hail, King of 
the Jews !" and smote Him in the face. ' ? And 
they spit upon Him, and took the reed, and smote 
Him on the head," "and bowing their knees wor- 
shiped Him." 

Here and throughout the entire Passion-history 
you will observe, dear Christian, how Satan poured 
•out all his poisonous, bitter, hellish hatred, rage 
and fury upon our dear Lord in such a way that 
surely no human being ever has endured such great 
and dreadful suffering, torture, insult, abuse and 
derision as the Son of God; and this He bore for 
the sake of my sin, thy sin and the sin of all the 
world. But now, since the suffering and death of 
Christ are the only sacrifice that was able to expiate 
sin, it is easy to calculate how immensely great and 
terrible God's wrath against sin must be; and also, 
how ineffably, yea, unfathomably great must be His 
grace and mercy toward us condemned beings, — 


that grace and mercy whereby He gave His only 
begotten Son to die an ignominious death upon the 
cross for our sins. 

Now it was customary among the Romans to 
beat malefactors before executing them ; for which 
reason Pilate commanded Christ also to be scourged. 
At the same time he still hopes and labors to 
liberate the Lord. Therefore he led Jesus forth, 
after the soldiers had scourged Him and put on 
Him the purple robe and the crown of thorns, and 
said to the Jews : "Behold, I bring Him forth to 
3 7 ou, that ye may know that I find no fault in Him.''* 

"Then," says John, "came Jesus forth, wearing 
the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And 
Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man !" meaning 
by this : You should be satisfied with such punish- 
ment as this, seeing that your accusations are so 
groundless and His innocence is so evident. But 
neither did he succeed in this way. 

As soon as the chief priests and their officers saw 
Jesus, and perceived that Pilate still sought to 
acquit Him, "they cried out, saying, Crucify Him, 
crucify Him." Pilate was displeased with such 
great injustice, "for," as we are informed by 
Matthew, "he knew that for envy they had delivered 
Him." Therefore he answers them bluntly : "Take 
ye Him and crucify Him; for I find no fault in 
Him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, 
and by our law He ought to die, because He made 
Himself the Son of God." 

"When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he 
was the more afraid; and went again into the 
judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art 
Thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. Then 


saith Pilate unto Him, Speakest Thou not unto me? 
knowest Thou not that I have power to crucify 
Thee, and have power to release Thee? Jesua 
answered, Thou couldest have no power at all 
against me, except it were given thee from above ; 
therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the 
greater sin." 

And this was also a powerful warning. For 
Pilate here went too far, thinking that in virtue of 
his authority Jesus' fate was in his hands, to be 
decided for or against Him at his own pleasure, as 
temporal authorities in such pride commit many 
sins. No, Pilate, says Christ, you overdo this 
matter; keep within proper bounds. If you have 
power, you have it not of yourself; power comes 
from above. Therefore, use your power in such a 
manner that you may know how to give an account 
of its exercise. Pilate accepts this admonition, and 
seeks the more how he might release Him. But 
the Jews would not hear of such a thing and "cried 
out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not 
Csesar's friend ; whosoever maketh himself a king 
speaketh against Caesar." 

"When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he 
brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment 
seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in 
the Hebrew, Gabbatha. And it was the prepara- 
tion of the passover, and about the sixth hour," i. e., 
about noon. "And he saith unto the Jews, Behold 
your King !" in other words, You still maintain 
that He had made Himself a king. Alas, for the 
king ! You do Him great injustice. Does He look 
like a king or like a seditious person ? But all was 
vain ; "They cried out, Away with Him, away with 


Him, crucify Him ! Pilate saith unto them, Shall 
I crucify your King ? The chief priests answered, 
We have no king hut Csesar." 

"When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, 
but that rather a tumult was made," he was "will- 
ing to content the people" and "gave sentence that 
it should be as they required," and "took water, 
and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, 
I am innocent of the blood of this just person ; see 
ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, 
His blood be on us, and on our children ;" that is, 
if we do Him wrong, then may we and our children 
be punished for it. "Then released he Barabbas 
unto them," — "him that for sedition and murder 
was cast into prison, whom they had desired ; but 
he delivered Jesus," mocked and scourged, "to their 
will," "to be crucified." These are the things that 
happened the Lord Jesus before Pilate. 


Explanation of Several Points in the History 
just Given. 

"%his part of the history of our Lord Jesus 

,J furnishes us with many excellent points of 
Christian doctrine, laden with consolation. Since, 
however, the material presented here is too much 
for one sermon, and the narrative itself is suffi- 
ciently lengthy, we shall dwell only on three points. 
The first is this : Pilate and others frequently testify 
to the innocence of our dear Lord Jesus. The 
second : Christ witnessed a good confession before 
Pilate, — which is also highly extolled by St. Paul, 
1 Tim. 6. The third: Both Pilate and the Jews 
treat the blood of the Lord as a trifle, but it after- 
ward becomes an intolerable and everlasting bur- 
den, which sinks them into temporal and eternal 

With reference to the first point, you must have 
noticed throughout that Pilate always insists upon 
it that he finds no cause of death in Christ. His 
wife also sent unto him, telling him to have nothing 
to do with that just and innocent man. Pilate 
moreover discovers, from all the actions of the Jews 
and by diligent investigation, that the chief priests 
and elders were moved against Christ by nothing 
but malice and envy. Similar testimony, but in 
greater measure and more powerful, was borne after 
the death of Christ. Great and glorious miracles 
then were wrought. The sun lost his lustre and 


deep darkness reigned, the vail of the temple was 
rent in twain, the earth did quake, the rocks rent, 
the graves were opened, and many bodies of the 
saints arose. Then the centurion openly confessed: 
"Certainly this was a righteous man." And all 
the people present, beholding and taking to heart 
the things which were done, smote their breasts, to 
signify that the rash execution of the dear, innocent 
Lord gave them pain. 

But of what use is this testimony ? Why do the 
Evangelists so carefully relate it ? Without a doubt, 
their only object is to point us to the counsel and 
will of God, and to admonish us to consider why 
the Lord, being innocent and just, had to suffer so. 
In other words, they wish, in view of the abundant 
proof that Christ was innocent and did not deserve 
to die, to make us firmer in our faith. They desire 
to convince us that whatever our blessed Lord 
Jesus suffered, He suffered for us ; and that God 
laid these afflictions upon Him, and, although He 
was innocent, would not remove them, so that, by 
His bearing them, sin might be removed from us 
and we might be reconciled again to God. 

Whenever, therefore, we read in any part of the 
Passion history how unjustly the Jews and Gentiles 
treated the Lord Jesus, how they smote Him before 
the high priest, set Him at naught before Herod, 
and mocked and scourged Him in the judgment 
hall, — whenever, I say, we hear of such treatment, 
no matter where it is recorded, our thoughts must 
run thus: Behold, He is innocent; He does not 
bear this for Himself; He has not merited this. 
But I and you and all of us have deserved this 
suffering ; death and every misfortune did rest upon 


us because of sin ; but here the innocent and holy 
Son of God appears, takes upon Himself my debts, 
thy debts, and the debts of all of us, and discharges 
them, so that we might be free. When these are 
our thoughts we shall have such comfort that our 
hearts cannot despair on account of their sin, and 
that we shall not flee from God as though He were 
a tyrant or an executioner; but that we shall turn 
unto Him with heart-felt confidence and praise and 
glorify His mercy, which, as Paul says in the 5. 
chap, of Romans, He commendeth toward us in 
that He delivered His only begotten Son, our Lord 
and Saviour, unto death, to die for us sinners. 
Who could or would doubt that God's intentions 
toward us are good and altogether gracious? 

Sin had subjected all of us to the wrath of God 
and to death, and had transferred us into Satan's 
kingdom ; eternal life was lost, and in its place had 
been inherited every calamity for time and for 
eternity. But our Father, merciful and gracious, 
comes to our relief, and, rather than permit us to 
remain in such misery, sends His only begotten 
Son, born of a virgin and made under the law, so 
that the law, although flesh and blood were unable 
to do God's will, might not have been given in 
vain, but might be fulfilled by this Man for all other 
men. And finally God suiters Him to die upon 
the cross, by His innocent death to atone for our 
sins, so that we, being released from eternal death 
and from the kingdom of Satan, might receive 
eternal life and be the children of God. 

Believing that this was done on thy account and 
for thy welfare, take it as thine own and let it 
comfort thee. And well may we do this ; for here 


we hear not once, not twice, but many times, that 
all that Jesus suffers He suffers innocently. But 
why does God tolerate this, yea, why does He 
ordain and bring it about? Simply that thou 
mightest be comforted in Christ. He does not 
suffer for Himself, but for thee and for all mankind, 
even as John says : "He is the propitiation for our 
sins : and not for ours only, but also for the sins of 
the whole world." For this reason John the Bap- 
tist calls Him "The Lamb of God, which taketh 
away~ the sin of the world," that is, a divinely 
appointed Sacrifice, who takes the sin of all the 
world upon Himself, so that this sin may rest upon 
the world no longer. This accounts for -the seem- 
ing inconsistency. He is the Son of God, perfectly 
holy and altogether without sin, and therefore it 
were but just that He should not be subject to the 
curse and to death. We are sinners and under the 
curse and wrath of God, and therefore it were but 
just that we should suffer death and damnation. 
But God has reversed this relation ;* He who knows 
no sin, who is altogether merciful, and in whom, as 
John says, dwells the fullness of God's grace, was 
made a curse for us and had to bear sin's punish- 
ment, while we, through Him, have obtained mercy 
and have become the children of God. We should, 
therefore, cling to this consolation and take special 
delight in such testimony for Christ's innocence. 
For what Christ innocently suffered was caused by 
our sins. Therefore His innocence comforts us 
against all sin and suffering; for His innocence is a 
sure and lasting evidence that His passion is for 
our benefit, and that our dear Lord and merciful 
Redeemer has suffered for us and paid our debts. 


However, since we shall have occasion to speak 
further of this when we come to Christ's crucifixion 
between the murderers, we shall now proceed to 
the second point. 

St. Paul, 1 Tim. 6., admonishes Timothy thus : 
"I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quick- 
eneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who 
before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession, 
that thou keep this commandment," that is, doc- 
trine, "without spot, unrebukable, until the appear- 
ing of our Lord Jesus Christ." 

Because this passage mentions so directly the 
confession which our dear Lord Jesus made before 
Pilate, and Paul makes use of it for earnestly ad- 
monishing Timothy, we have reason to meditate 
upon this confession and to inquire what it is and 
what is its purpose. I^ow, the Gospels tell us 
plainly what it was that Christ confessed. When 
the Jews had accused Him of having said that He 
was a king, and Pilate had taken Him to task on 
this account, He did not deny, but confessed openly 
before Pilate: "My kingdom is not of this world," 
i.e., my kingdom is no corporeal, earthly kingdom. 
Then Pilate asked again, "Art Thou a king then? 
Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To 
this end was I born, and for this cause came I into 
the world, that I should bear witness unto the 
truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my 
voice." Do you ask : But of what use was this 
confession to Paul in admonishing Timothy to keep 
the commandment, i. e. doctrine, pure and not to 
adulterate it? Truly, of much use! Everything, 
if we desire to be true ministers and Christians, 
depends upon our believing what Christ confessed, 


viz. : that He is a king ; but that His kingdom is 
not of this world ; that His only work in this world 
is to bear witness unto the truth. And it follows 
that His earthly subjects must be like Him, the 
King. He is indeed called a king ; but when He is 
compared with Herod, Pilate and other temporal 
kings and rulers, he seems a poor, wretched man. 
Herod was a great, shining lord, who courted 
sensual delight, realized his heart's desires, and was 
looked upon by all the world as glorious. So the 
world regarded Pilate too and others. But poor, 
innocent Christ bears no comparison with such as 
they ; yea, men mock and scorn Him as they please; 
they nail Him to the cross and murder Him. 
Therefore He said : "My kingdom is not of this 
world !" 

Why, then, is He called a king? Because He is 
a king, — a king "just, and having salvation," as 
Zechariah says, chapter 9. Therefore, whosoever 
lives in His kingdom must not expect Him to give 
money or possessions, to satisfy the body's wants, 
or to do the other things which earthly kings are 
wont to do. jSTo, this King forgives sins; Hebe- 
stows righteousness; He delivers from everlasting 
death ; He bestows the Holy Spirit and eternal life. 
These are His gifts to all who hear His voice. This 
kingdom He has established on earth, but only in 
the Word and in faith. 

We have, therefore, an eternal King omnipotent, 
Christ Jesus, God's own Son, who rescues us from 
Satan's power, from sin, from never-ending death. 
Our King does not deliver from bodily death; for 
earth is the place for suffering and dying, and He 


Himself had to suffer here and die. Those who 
-recognize this character of the King and His king- 
dom bear the cross with resignation. For then 
they know that our Lord Jesus, the everlasting 
King, also had to bear the cross, and thus, remem- 
bering that the servant cannot fare better than his 
master, are made willing and ready to suffer. And, 
besides, they take comfort in the knowledge that, 
although they must suffer here, there in eternity 
joy and glory shall be theirs. It is this that makes 
Christians bold, even in the midst of temptation 
and death ; while they who do not know these 
things cannot do otherwise in days of adversity 
than mourn, lament, murmur, show impatience, 
and, in the end, even despair. For the latter think 
that if God wished them well, He would not permit 
so much misery to come upon them, or else would 
soon help and rescue them. Such thoughts unmis- 
takably prove that Christ is held to be a king of 
this world. Temporal kings must, according to 
the duties of their office, protect the bodies, lives 
and possessions of their subjects and defend them 
against danger. But Christ, the King of glory, 
permits body and property, life and all to be in 

Do thou learn and firmly believe that these things 
are so for the reason, simply, that His ''Kingdom is 
not of this world." Thy Christian faith is not to 
be used by thee on earth as the means for obtaining 
all things in abundance, or for supplying all thy 
desires. For behold thy King ! How does it fare 
with Him, the Lord Jesus? With what does He 
make a display? Did He live a life of ease? Do 
men regard Him as glorious? We see nothing 


there except the suffering, mocked, reviled and 
ignominiously slaughtered One. 

True, He does sway a scepter, but only over a 
very small number, even the testimony of truth, 
that is, the holy Gospel. By means of this, as said 
already, He sends the Holy Spirit into the souls .of 
men, forgives their sins, and gives them the hope 
of everlasting life. But all these things take place 
only in faith and in the Word; we cannot see 
them; we cannot touch them; they are realized not 
by reason, but by hope. However, when earth's 
kingdom ends and we dwell no longer here, then 
shall His kingdom and His glory be revealed to us, 
yea, we shall live with Him and with Him rule all 
things in heaven and on earth. 

It was in this way that the Lord was recognized 
on the cross by one of the malefactors, saying, 
"Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy 
kingdom." He saw Christ suspended on the tree 
in the same misery, in which he found himself. 
The malefactor on the left was offended at Christ's 
helplessness and helped the Jews to rail on Him : 
Ah ! a very fine king, indeed ! He concluded that 
since the dear Lord was so wretched and poor on 
earth, it would, of course, be useless to expect help ' 
from Him. But he on the right knew Him w r ell ; 
he knew Him not as a worldly, but as a spiritual 
and an eternal King. For this reason he prays 
that He would remember him in His kingdom when 
His body should be lifeless there upon the cross. 
In this way must we also believe in Him, and then 
shall we find immutable comfort in Christ Jesus. 

]S"ow, all Christians need that consolation which 
always, in all kinds of distress and disappointment. 


comes to them when they hold to Christ's confession 
before Pilate. It makes them say to themselves: 
Why shouldest thou weep? Why complain of this 
or that misfortune ? Think what kind of a King 
thou hast; what says He before Pilate? "My 
kingdom is not of this world." Wouldst thou have 
thy kingdom here? ~No, no; for here it would not 
last; this is altogether the land of suffering! But 
in the world to come glory and a joyful life shall 
surely be found. If they could be found here, they 
would afford only a short and transient joy, for in 
this world there is nothing firm nor eternal. But 
Jesus Christ, my King, is a King in the other 
world, that is, an everlasting King ; postpone thy 
glorying and thy pleasures, therefore, till thou goest 
thither, and be content with the treatment thou 
receivest here. Thy King has not given thee orders 
to remain here ; He will have nothing to do with 
the world outside of the testimony of truth. — All 
Christians, I say, need this consolation, but espe- 
cialty they who hold the ministerial office and ply 
the Word. 

For this reason St. Paul urges Timothy with 
these words, referring to Christ's confession before 
Pilate, to hold fast to the pure doctrine and not to 
let it be falsified. The world and the devil cannot 
bear the Word, and oppose it with all manner of 
confusion. Every pastor should and must, there- 
fore, cling to the testimony mentioned, and recog- 
nize Christ as that King, in whom he finds comfort, 
and whom he hopes to enjoy, — but not on earth. 
He says, "But now is my kingdom not from hence." 
And again, "I am a king .... for this cause came 
I into the world, that I should bear witness unto 


the truth." Whosoever, therefore, desires to have 
this King Jesus, let him lay hold on the truth, 
which is His Word, and know that he shall not on 
account of His kingdom have greater abundance on 
earth; yea, let him know that he shall have to bear 
many a misfortune on account of the Word, even 
as did Christ, the King, Himself. But when life 
on earth is over, then shall come the full enjoyment 
of the Lord Jesus' kingdom. 

The Pope and bishops never knew this consola- 
tion. They do not recognize as king one who does 
no more than bear witness unto the truth, and cry 
with Pilate: "What is truth?" Had we nothing 
else we would, no doubt, have to go a begging. 
Therefore will we have another king, — one who 
can give us plenty of money, possessions, honor, 
power and everything; as for this King and His 
truth, they may in the meanwhile fare as they can. 
But St. Paul cautions against such folly. And 
every pious pastor should earnestly heed this ad- 
monition, and depend upon it that we shall not be 
glorified on earth, and that all our glory here shall 
be to bear witness unto the truth. Earth's reward 
for this service shall be in our case what it was in 
the Lord Jesus' case, the gallows and the execu- 
tioner. Learn to suffer and to hear such things, 
and let it be your faith and hope, that, although 
you must suffer here, still this suffering shall, in 
the other world, be rewarded and made good by 
the Lord Jesus, the eternal King ! But this must 
suffice for a brief consideration of the testimony 
before Pilate. 

We must now examine the third point also. It 
is this: Pilate and the Jews greatly undervalue the 


blood of our dear Lord Jesus, which, finally, falls 
ou them as a crushing and eternal burden. 

Matthew mentions in particular that Pilate 
washed his hands before the multitude, and said : 
"I am innocent of the blood of this just person." 
He thought he had done his whole duty in making 
several attempts to liberate Christ, and that he 
could not help it that the Jews resisted him in his 
efforts. Still he delivered the Lord to be crucified. 
Just as though his saying "I am innocent" would 
make him innocent ! Had Jie desired a warning, 
his wife might have told him how innocent he 
would be ; for she, as related above in the text, had 
spent a whole night suffering many things in a 
dream, from which she could judge the severity of 
the judgment which Pilate would bring upon him- 
self and all belo-nging to him by consenting to the 
death of "that just man." But so it always is with 
the blood of the Lord Jesus and with that of His 
Christians. Herod the elder slew all Bethlehem's 
innocent infants. His son slew the holy John the 
Baptist. Both dared to think themselves benefited 
by their murder. Neither did Pilate here regard it 
as much out of the way that he sentenced Christ to 
die. He thought that his opinion would also be 
God's opinion, and that God would, therefore, hold 
him innocent. But without doubt God's wrath did 
not tarry long till it utterly destroyed the house, 
the tribe, the name of Pilate, and then thrust his 
body and soul into hell and into the eternal fire. 
There he discovered how innocent he was of this 

But the Jews went about this murder with still 
greater recklessness. When Pilate said, "Sec ye to 


it," they shamelessly burst out with the cry, "His 
blood be ou us, and on our children," that is, in 
case He should be wronged, we are willing that we 
and our children shall sutler for it. It was easily 
said, and seemed to have been spoken with im- 
punity. But before forty years had passed they 
saw their imprecation about to be answered. And 
then this "blood" began to flow down upon them 
in such streams that Jerusalem and the whole 
Jewish kingdom soon were desolate, the people 
lamentably slain, and ^11 things overthrown. But 
even this sufficed not ; from that time till this, and 
it is now nearly fifteen hundred years, they have 
wandered about in misery, nowhere finding a con- 
tinuing city. 

This temporal punishment, so that they have no 
cities nor government of their own, is truly severe, 
but it shall come to an end. But this is truly terri- 
ble that their hearts are so horribly imbittered 
against Christ, the Son of God. Instead of seeking^ 
and expecting forgiveness of sin and eternal life 
and salvation, as they should, of Christ, their King 
and God, they abuse and revile Him, thus taking 
delight in falsehood and error, and diligently seek 
means of darkening the Scriptures before their own 
eyes and preventing their understanding it. There- 
fore, when they fancy that they are calling upon 
and serving God, they really serve the very deviL 
Neither does God hear them. And since they 
desire no freedom from sin through the Son of 
God, there can be nothing surer to them than that 
they must die in their sins aud be forever ruined. 
In the 8. chapter of John, Christ tells them thia 


very thing : "If ye believe not that I am He, ye 
shall die in your sins." 

They did not, at that time, perceive this calamity, 
and even thought that the sooner Christ could be 
slain the better it would be for them. Without 
any further thought, therefore, they said : If He is 
wronged, may we and our children be punished! 
But even as the thirty pieces of silver afforded 
Judas a joy of only short duration, so also a change 
soon came upon the Jews. From clay to day failure 
advanced upon all their affairs, until, in the end, 
they went to utter ruin. This is, therefore, a fit 
subject for the serious meditation especially of great 
kings and princes ; these should remember what an 
easy, trifling thing it seemed for Pilate and the 
Jews to shed innocent blood, and how this finally 
forced them into the abyss of hell. 

When our bishops and their idol, the Pope, have 
succeeded in seizing a pious, faithful minister and 
pastor, they hurry him off* to the stake* or to the 
gallows, and dream they have done well; they do 
this, therefore, like Pilate and the Jews, with wan- 
tonness. But their success is not made certain yet; 
alas, such an end as theirs shall be ! For it is 
impossible that God should look long upon such 
deeds in silence; innocent blood cries so mightily 
into His ears that He must rise and inflict punish- 

Pilate was thrust so low that now, no doubt, not 
a single person of his name or tribe remains. The 
Jews to this day are laboring under the blood of 
Jesus Christ, and it will finally press them down to 
hell. The great and powerful emperors and the 


mighty princes in the Romish and all other king- 
doms, and every one else that has ever persecuted 
Christians,— they all have been lamentably over- 
thrown and slain. 

And surely the same fate awaits the enemies of 
Christ of our day, who act as tyrants and persecute 
and murder Christians for the Gospel's sake. Let 
no one fear that punishment shall fail to come I 
They who meddle with the innocent blood of Chris- 
tians, though they may be as mighty as the Emperor 
Augustus, must still go down, together with all 
their descendants. They may, indeed, be thinking 
now that we are heretics and that they do right by 
slaying us. So thought Pilate, and especially the 
Jews, but it availed them nothing. Let every one, 
therefore, take good care of himself and let alone 
the blood of Christians ! At first it seems a little 
sin, — a trifle merely ; but in the end, everything 
that is stained with Christians' blood shall be utterly 
destroyed, as all history testifies. 

May Almighty God resist all tyrants, mercifully 
grant peace unto His Church, graciously keep us by 
His Word and save us forever. Amen. 


Christ Led away to be Crucified. — Simon Bears 

the Cross after Him. — The Women who Follow 

Bewail and Lament Him. 

Luke 23, 26-31. And as they led Him away, they laid hold upon 
one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they 
laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus. And there followed 
Him a great company of people, and of women, which also be .vailed 
and lamented Him. But Jesus mrning unto them said, Daughters of 
Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your 
children. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall 
say, B'essed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the 
paps which never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the 
mountains, Fall on us ; and to the hills, Cover us. For if they do 
these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry? 

Limon's bearing the cross and the women's 
§§H weeping occurred while Christ was being led 
from Pilate to the place of execution. Matthew, 
Mark and Luke alike make mention of Simon, a 
Cyrenian, to show, no doubt, that what is said of 
him was no accident, as it might seem, but so or- 
dained by God for a special purpose, viz. : that at 
the very time when Christ should be led away to 
suffer, all Christians might have an example set, 
from which to learn how they should fare on earth, 
— that the} 7 must bear the cross after the Lord 
Jesus, like Simon here. This good and pious man, 
not knowing in what the Jews at Jerusalem were 
engaged, went into the city according to his need 
and opportunity, to attend to his business. And 
now, as the Lord and the two murderers were led 
toward him, and the Lord, on account of weakness, 


could cany no further the cross which had been 
placed on Him, and which, since a strong, full- 
grown man was to be nailed to it, must have been 
pretty heavy, the soldiers ran up to good, pious 
Simon and compelled him to take up the cross or 
tree, to which Christ was to be nailed, and to bear 
it after the Lord. 

This looks as if it had happened incidentally. 
But it is, as already said, a picture of all Christians, 
which God wished to show to His Church just 
when. His dear Son, Jesus Christ, was Himself 
suffering, so as to check that common offence which 
is so apt to lead us all astray: For as soon as God 
monies to us with the cross, attacking our body or 
property, giving us ill-bred children or sending 
some other misfortune or calamity, our courage 
fails us. We then conclude that God does not wish 
us well, and that if He loved us He would deal 
more gently with us. We take the fact that He 
permits us to be troubled, afflicted and tormented 
as an indication that He is angry with us and 
refuses to be gracious. 

Now, the picture in our text is to operate against 
offences of this kind. In the first place, we see the 
Son of God bearing His cross Himself and finding 
it so heavy that it nearly throws Him down and 
that He can scarcely walk. Mark this well! For 
if such things happen to the green and fruitful tree, 
about which we shall soon be told, it is easy to infer 
that better things shall not and can not happen the 
dry and unfruitful tree. In the second place, we 
see pious Simon doing the work that others should 
have done; had he not come near where Christ 
was compelled to carry His cross, he would never 


have needed to bear a cross. But here he suffers 
for the Lord Jesus ; because Christ carries the cross, 
he also must suffer and help to carry it. Remember, 
it shall never be different with Christians here; 
they must all submit with Simon and bear the cross 
after Christ. 

Although God may bear with the wicked for a 
while and permit them to receive everything that 
their hearts wish and covet, still their punishment 
shall not be delayed always. They too must suffer 
here on earth, receiving now here a kick then there 
a thrust, and never afterward enjoying uninterrupted 
success, as the 32. Psalm tells us : "Many sorrows 
shall be to the wicked ; but he that trusteth in the 
Lord, mercy shall compass him about," and as is 
glaringly shown by examples. 

Severe and violent were the sufferings of ungodly 
Pharaoh and his Egyptians. And how much mis- 
fortune, oppression and grief did not the Jews have 
to bear in the desert and afterward in the land of 
Canaan, until, finally, the Assyrian wasted the ten 
tribes, and, some time after, even Judah's tribe was 
flung into the whirlpool of woes and the entire land 
conquered by the Babylonians ! But it is not 
necessary to cite many instances. Each one need 
merely think of what he himself has seen and ex- 
perienced in his own case and in that of others. It 
is, therefore, impossible that punishment, distress, 
wretchedness and tribulation should finally fail to 
follow where God is not feared and where His Word 
and will are resisted. 

But from the case of Simon here we must learn 
to make a difference between the holy cross and 
the well-deserved punishment and misery of the 


wicked. No wonder if the knave fares badly ; for 
he rushes to his doom with open eyes. If the thiet 
would stop his stealing he would, no doubt, remain 
secure against the gallows and the hangman. As 
for men and women, if they would refrain from 
debauchery, they might enjoy wealth, honor and 
health. But since they do not desist, but continue 
in sin, God punishes them with poverty, disgrace, 
disease, or other misfortunes. These wicked ones 
wish nothing else and nothing better; for by their 
sin and impenitent lives they themselves furnish 
the cause for their misery and distress ; they urge 
God, who would delight in being merciful and in 
giving them all good things, yea, they compel Him 
to make His anger burn at once, to heap destruction 
on them and to stem the tide of sin. Peter there- 
fore says, 1 Pet. 4, 15 : "But let none of you sutler 
as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evil-doer, or 
as a busybody in other men's matters." lie thus 
makes this distinction, that not all suffering is to 
be called a "cross;" for that which the wicked 
sutler is not their cross, but their punishment and 
merited reward ; while that which Christians suffer, 
like Simon here, is called and is in reality a "cross," 
because it is not merited, but the fault of others. 
If Simon had not just happened to meet the Lord 
Jesus, he would have been let alone ; but he has to 
suffer for it that he came where Christ was being 
led to the crucifixion. 

In this way all Christians should suffer and bear 
the cross ; even as Peter says : Not "suffer as a 
murderer, or as a thief, . . . yet ... as a Christian," 
that is, for the sake of the Lord Jesus and His 


Word and confession. All Christians acknowledge 
themselves to be poor sinners, and know that 
through sin they have deserved all the calamities 
God sends upon them on earth, and many more. 
They are, indeed, the only ones who acknowledge 
their short- comings, weakness and transgressions ; 
for sin's peculiar punishment is eternal death, and 
not this or that particular temporal misfortune. 
Nevertheless, their suffering is not the punishment 
for sin, but the real and holy "cross." His being a 
sinner and his stumbling and falling occasionally, 
is not the reason why the Christian is hated by the 
evil adversary and the world. No, both the devil 
and the world could well tolerate that, and would 
be satisfied with the Christian as far as that is con- 
cerned. But the Christian holds to the Word and 
has faith ; he put his hope in Christ, the Son of 
God, and is comforted in His death and resurrec- 
tion ; he fears God and tries to live according to 
His will ; he labors hard, by means of his confession, 
to persuade others to believe and to come to the 
knowledge of Christ. This it is that neither the 
devil nor his tender bride, the world, can endure; 
this it is that makes Satan rage so terribly against 
all Christians; this it is that makes him always 
pursue them, afflicting their bodies with disease 
and sometimes their property with loss by storms, 
or hail, or fire, as it was the case with Job. (Job 1.) 
And sometimes he troubles them with great secret 
torments of conscience, such as melancholy, sadness, 
fear, trembling, doubts, dread of death, and like 
fiery darts of the devil, about which the Psalms 
lament so much. Of this kind was the temptation 
of Paul which he mentions 2 Cor. 12 : "There was 


given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of 
Satan to buffet me," &c. And what the world does 
in this direction is easily seen, especially in times 
like the present, when poor Christians receive such 
wretched and horrible treatment. 

This is bearing the Lord Jesus' cross as Simon 
did. Simon was certainly also a poor sinner, but 
what is that to these soldiers ? It is not for this 
that they make him suffer, but they make him 
suffer because Christ, who cannot get along with 
His cross, is present and needs some one to help 
Him bear the cross. 

Therefore, although thou art a poor sinner, and 
confessest how thou hast in various ways sinned 
against God; still, because thou believest in Christ, 
thy sins are not the chief cause of all thy crosses 
and afflictions, and thy sins are not that for which 
the devil and the world punish thee. Nay, it 
would be their joy and rejoicing if thou wouldst be 
altogether on their side, and not on that of God 
and His Word. It is chiefly on account of the 
Lord Jesus, His Word and thy faith that thou must 

This, that Simon bears the Lord Jesus' cross, is 
the first thing to be learned here. It is profitable 
especially for consolation, giving us certainty that 
we shall realize our hope of help and salvation, and 
provoking us to prayer. For he who, when he lies 
under the cross and in misery, thinks only of his 
being a sinner and deserving such punishment, is, 
by such thoughts, made too cold and too lazy to 
pray. For it is the nature of sin always to terrify 



the heart, to make it fearful and timid, and to 
deprive it of the consolation and the hope that God 
will bestow aught that is good. But if we consider 
the real, chief reason why the devil and the world 
are such bitter enemies of ours and heap all manner 
of mischief on us, we shall have to confess that it is 
not on account of our sins that they are so furious. 
They would like, and this is their constant aim, to 
plunge us into all sin and shame, to succeed in 
which would be their pleasure and satisfaction. 
They are opposed to us, they seek where they can 
to do us harm and hate us, especially because we 
heed the Word of God, confess the Lord Jesus, 
place our confidence in the goodness and grace of 
God and desire to live according to His will, in His 
fear and love, and in faith and obedience. This is 
the fountain and foundation of their hatred and 
envy. Mark well, thou must therefore not deny 
that thou art a poor sinner, and that thou hast by 
thy sins deserved every calamity. For God punishes 
also His own for their sins, as Peter says, "Judg- 
ment must begin at the house of God." But Satan 
and the world, so say to thyself, are not angiy with 
me on this account ; they would be satisfied with 
me if I, like a hog in the mire, remained impenitent 
in my sins. But why, then, do they hate me? 
Simply because I believe and confess that the Man 
who here bears the cross is my God and Saviour. 

Now, if this is true, what shall we do next? 
Shall we despair? No, as you prize your soul, no ! 
Firm hope must be ours. And though we are 
miserable sinners, it is still most sure that the Lord 
Jesus will not let us perish as long as we suffer for 


His sake. He can help us mercifully, and He will 
do so. And as we suffer and die with Him, so 
shall we also be exalted with Him into glory and 
live with Him forever. But let us boldly open our 
mouth and cry, saying: Lord, we are, indeed, 
poor sinners, and by our disobedience have deserved 
infinitely severer chastisement than we are now 
bearing ; but look, Lord, at the wicked enemy's 
intentions. The enemy hates Thee and Thy name, 
and hates us too because we hold fast to Thee and 
Thy name, find comfort in Thy Word, and hope 
for mercy through Thy death and merits. There- 
fore, dear Lord Jesus Christ, be Thou avenged on 
them, and help us for Thy name's sake. — Such 
thoughts make the heart cheerful and give it confi- 
dence and boldness to pour itself out in prayer. 
For this reason the holy Prophets also prayed in 
this w r ay, constantly pleading the name of God, as 
David does in the 44. Psalm : "Yea, for Thy sake 
are we killed all the day long ; we are counted as 
sheep for the slaughter." Let the preceding, about 
Simon's being compelled by the soldiers to suffer 
for the sake of the Lord Jesus bv bearing His cross, 
be said, then, for the special purpose of teaching 
the distinction between the Christian's cross and 
the wicked man's punishment for sin. 

The second thing to be learned here is that Simon 
not only bears the cross, but also bears it because 
he is compelled to do so. For if he would have 
had his own will in the matter, he would have gone 
his way and cared very little what was becoming of 
Christ and His cross. But the soldiers seize him 
against his will, and compel him to carry the cross. 


This subject teaches us also very nicely what 
really is and what is not a cross. Monks and nuns 
who are in earnest, lead an austere life and oppress 
themselves with the most difficult labor. But this 
is not the cross of Christ which Simon bears. 
Why? Because they have placed it on themselves 
from their own free choice and without the com- 
mand of God. And just so the Anabaptists do. 
But the proverb, "what is done from choice is done 
with ease," might be applied to such suffering; 
since it is self-imposed, aud might be avoided, it 
cannot hurt very badly. But when one is compelled 
to bear the cross and does it reluctantly, then it 
becomes heavy and oppressive. It is this idea that 
Christ expresses when He says, John 21, to Peter: 
"When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and 
walkedst whither thou wouldest ; but when thou 
shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and 
another shall gird thee, and cany thee whither 
thou wouldest not." Let Christians be ever so 
perfect, flesh and blood cannot help but shudder at, 
fear and shun the cross. 

For this reason this man is called Simon or 
Simeon, which, in his language, means one who 
takes advice and obeys. For that is true obedience 
which, though it prefers to be exempt from this or 
that suffering, still yields to it willingly, following 
and letting itself be led, simply because it sees that 
God desires it so. All true Christians can be called 
by this name Simon. For although their flesh and 
blood would like to rest and be excused from pain, 
they still obey, heed the Word, are submissive to 
to the will of God, and help the Lord Jesus bear 
His cross. 


The third thing to be learned here is to distin- 
guish -between Simon and the Lord Jesus. Simon 
bears the cross after the Lord Jesus as far as the 
place of execution and then goes away ; while 
Christ allows Himself to be nailed to the cross and 
dies on it. This is the true difference between the 
suffering of Christ and our suffering. Our suffering- 
does not earn the forgiveness of sins. This is accom- 
plished alone by the sufferings of our Lord Jesus. 
He alone is the true Sacrifice and Lamb of God 
which pays and atones for the sins of all the world 
and, for this reason, hangs upon the cross. But 
Simon merely carries the cross ; that is, our bearing 
the cross does nothing more with the old Adam 
than molest him, and nothing more with sin than 
oppose it. But it is the work and merit of our 
Lord Jesus alone that forgives our sins. 

Thus, beloved, you perceive that this Simon is a 
pattern for all Christians, for they must bear the 
cross of the Lord Jesus ; and that it is not, however, 
on account of this bearing that their sins are for- 
given. The bearing of the cross serves to restrain 
the old Adam, lest he become too wild. But when 
the cross is to be the means of the forgiveness of 
sins, it will not do for Simon to bear it, but then 
Christ must hang and die on it. This is the reason 
why Simon is set free. By Christ's death we are 
set free from death and receive eternal life, as this 
is clearly pointed out in that part of our text which 
we are about to treat. 

St. Luke tells us that as the Lord was led out of 
Jerusalem, some women followed, bewailing and 
lamenting Him. The Lord turned to them and 


told them not to weep for Him, but for themselves 
and for their children, because the time was coming 
when the woman without child would be called 
blessed, and when, as Hosea says, men would desire 
the mountains to fall upon and cover them. But 
the reason of such calamity and woe was, that since 
Christ, the green tree, was so badly treated, they, 
the dry and barren tree, would be treated still 

Although these things referred especially to the 
Jews of that day, they still show us how to make 
proper use of our Lord Jesus' sufferings ; first, by 
revealing sin as a terrible burden, — the Son of God 
Himself being compelled to die on account of our 
sin; and then, by consoling us against sin by 
means of Christ's sufferings, — the Son of God hav- 
ing rendered satisfaction and atoned for sin upon 
the cross. 

Xotice, first, the difference which the Lord makes 
between Himself and the Jews, for on this difference 
a great deal depends. Himself He compares to a 
young tree, so beautiful and fruitful that it should 
be bought for a garden, and by no means cut down 
and cast into the fire. Nevertheless, the latter is 
done. God lets Him be cut down, that is, He lets 
Him now be led out to the cross, where He is to be 
slain as the greatest malefactor, notwithstanding* 
that He is such a fine, sappy, beautiful and fruitful 
tree. He is without all sin and walks before God 
in perfect obedience, and all things He says and 
does are purely noble and precious fruits, every one 
of which is a joy to God and a blessing to us. In 
short, we find nothing about the Lord Jesus that is 
not grace, life and salvation. The Jews on the 


other hand, He compares to an old, barren, dry and 
rotten tree, which is altogether out of place in the 
garden, and only fit to be felled and burned. For 
they did not heed God's Word. John's preaching 
brought no fruit; they said John had a devil. 
Christ, the Son of God, Himself and His Apostles 
preached. Neither did they pay any attention to 
Him, but called Him a wine-bibber, said He had a 
devil, and hated and envied Him so bitterly that 
they had no peace until they had brought Him 
from life to death. Nevertheless, since they had 
Moses, the law, and the external worship of God in 
the temple at Jerusalem, they dared to think that 
they were God's people, that they were living 
saints,' indeed, and that they rested in God's bosom. 
Now, it is easy to imagine, if the Son of God, who 
is a fine, fruitful tree, is visited by so severe a judg- 
ment of God, how infinitely severe shall be the fate 
of the terribly great sinners, the dry trees. It was 
the Lord's desire that the Jews should understand 
this now and not continue in their sin; that, by 
seeing Him, who, though innocent, was crucified 
and killed, they might learn to fear the wrath of 
God and to flee from it by true repentance. Little, 
however, did this warning avail. The dry tree 
could yield no fruit, and so was cast into the fire. 
History shows this, where it tells us that about 
forty years after Christ's death a most terrible 
judgment came upon the Jews for their sin, the 
Eomans desolating their whole land. For them- 
selves, therefore, even as the Lord here counsels 
and exhorts them to do, and not for Christ, should 
they have wept, acknowledging their sins and 


We too, however, should take this advice to 
heart. For we all must confess that we have many 
and great sins and, therefore, are dry and unfruitful 
trees, — trees which do not and can not yield any- 
thing good. What, then, shall we do ? ^Nothing 
except weep and cry to God for pardon, and earn- 
estly resist and curb our evil, sinful nature and 
inordinate desires. For we are admonished here, 
that since the fruitful tree receives such shameful 
treatment, God permitting His dear Son to suffer 
so severely, we should not feel secure, nor laugh, 
nor skip carelessly along, like the world, which 
neither hears nor knows this warning of the Lord. 
But we should weep, we should discern our sins, 
we should heartily lament that we have been so 
corrupted by sin and that we have become unfruitful 
trees ; we should fear the wrath of God on this 
account and pray for mercy and forgiveness. 

The first thing tor us specially to learn from the 
sufferings of Christ is to fear God and His anger on 
account of our sins, and not to give the reins to 
sin. This we must do for ourselves, for we are a 
dry, unfruitful tree, which is fit only for the fire. 

But the Lord teaches us still another thing here. 
We should weep for ourselves and for our children ; 
but for Him we should not weep, but laugh, rejoice 
and be of good cheer. For why does He suffer? 
He is a genuine, good and fruitful tree, and has not 
deserved such a cruel fate, but bears it for our sin's 
sake. And as He now proceeds to the cross it is 
His only aim to perform the work of His priestly 
office, and not only to pray for sinners, but also to 
sacrifice His body and His life upon the altar of the 


cross for them, so that this offering may reconcile 
God, liberate poor sinners from His wrath, and 
make them heirs of everlasting life. The Lord, 
therefore, does not want ns to think of His suffer- 
ings as of something for which we should weep. 
He wants us to rejoice, to glorify God, to thank 
Him for His mercy, to praise, to extol and to con- 
fess Him, because His going to the cross has brought 
to us the grace of God, freed us from sin and death , 
and made us God's dear children. 

But the first of these lessons goes doAvn as hard 
with us as the second, and the second as hard as 
the first. We prefer the ways of the world to the 
warning and advice of the Lord Jesus. We should 
weep for ourselves, because sin has polluted us so, 
and because so terrible a judgment awaits us. But 
where is the man to be found who weeps ? The 
deeper men sink into the slime of sin, the more 
secure and joyful they grow. Man deems his joy, 
glory and life perfect, as we have said several times 
before, when he has numerous occasions for sinning. 
No sum of money can satiate the misers maw. 
The more advantage the greedy man can take and 
the freer access to gain he has, the happier he 
becomes, and he verily imagines that he has done 
his work well. Just so it is with other sins, such 
as anger, lewdness, envy, pride. Who cares for 
them? Who weeps for them? They are loved by 
every one and every one yields to them. 

How the Jews succeeded with such work we 

clearly see. It behooves us, therefore, to repent 

and, as the Lord now so faithfully exhorts when He 

is about to die, to be concerned and grieved for 



ourselves. And it is certain, once for all, that our 
sins shall be punished with eternal death unless we 
are freed from them. 

Even as we are disobedient with reference to the 
first lesson, for no one weeps and none lament their 
sins; so do we disobey in regard to the second, for 
no cne wishes heartily to rejoice over the dear 
Lord Jesus. Money, possessions, honor and the 
like, mean and little though they be, rejoice the 
heart ; while that which is exclusively grace and 
life and salvation finds the heart almost chilled and 
dead, and void of all longing and desire and heart- 
felt eagerness to possess this treasure. 

These lessons, when attention is paid merely to 
their words, are, indeed, easily and quickly learned ; 
but when, on the other hand, they are to be mas- 
tered in their relation to our heart and sinful 
nature, the task is most difficult and even impossible. 
Our determination to invert these lessons is heredi- 
tary. Instead of weeping for our sins, we laugh 
about them. Instead of laughing and exulting 
with all our heart that Christ has died for us, we 
weep. JSTow, we either regard this rejoicing on 
account of Jesus as not superior to the more popular 
joys of the world ; or else sin and the wrath of God 
have seized our souls and banished from them the 
desire and the ability to be comforted. Christ's 
u Weep not for me" hardly penetrates the heart. 
We weep and lament and despair as though Christ 
had not died, not paid for our sins, not averted 
God's anger, and not delivered us from death. 

Before either lesson can be learned, therefore, 
prayer is necessary. We must pray, first, that God, 


by His Holy Spirit, would move our hearts, disgust 
us with and dissuade us from sin, and shield us 
from false security. We must pray, again, that He 
would kindle in our souls the flame of consolation 
against sin, and seal there the confidence in the 
sacrifice and satisfaction of Christ Jesus ; so that 
we may truly worship God, like poor sinners fear 
Him, abide in repentance and trust in His goodness 
with all our heart; for He does not wish us harm, 
seeing that for the forgiveness of our sins He deliv- 
ered His Only Begotten into death, even the death 
of the cross. May our dear Lord Jesus grant us 
this. Amen. 


Christ Nailed to the Cross. — His Deeds, 
Sufferings and Words on the Cross. 

Matt 27, 33-56. And when the}' were come nnto a place called 
Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull, they gave Him vinegar to 
drink mingled with gall : and when He had tasted thereof, He would 
not drink. Aud they crucified Him, and parted His garments, cast- 
ing lots : that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, 
They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did 
they cast lots. And sitting down they watched Him there; and set 
up over His head His accusation written, This is Jesus the King of 
the Jews. Then were there two thieves crucified with Him ; one on 
the right hand, and another on the left. And they that passed by 
reviled Him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest 
the temple, and buildest it in three days, save Thyself. If Thou be 
the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief 
priests mocking Him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved 
others ; Himself He cannot save. If He be the King of I&rael, let Him 
now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted 
in God ; let Him deliver Him now, if He will have Him : for He said, 
I am the Son of God. The thieves also, which were crucified with 
Him, cast the same in His teeth. Now from the sixth hour there was 
darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth 
hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani ? 
that is to saj-, My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me? Some 
of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth 
for Elias. And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and 
filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave Him to drink. 
The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save Him. 
Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the 
ghost. And, behold, the vail of the temple was rent in twain from 
the top to the bottom ; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 
and the graves were opened ; and many bodies of the saints which 
slept arose, and came out of the graves after His resurrection, and 
went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Now when the 
centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the 
earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, 
saying, Truly this was the Son of God. And many women were 
there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, minister- 
ing unto Him : among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the 
wiother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children. 


Jach of the four Evangelists makes a record of 
H!| the things that occurred on the cross. Still, 
sometimes one of them mentions a thing that the 
rest of them omit. Before treating, therefore, on 
the true doctrine taught in our text, we propose to 
recite the history of the cross in its details as 
furnished by all four Evangelists. 

When the soldiers had brought the Lord Jesus 
to Golgotha, the place for executing public male- 
factors, "they gave Him," as Matthew relates, 
"vinegar to drink mingled with gall." This gall 
was not the gall of a live beast, but a compound of 
all sorts of bitter herbs. This drink, as some sup- 
pose, was given to dying criminals, to hasten their 
departure. But the Lord would not drink of it, 
for He had willingly yielded to this death. The 
word gall is used in this sense in Deut. 29, Ps. 69, 
Jer. 8, and in other places. Immediately after this, 
the soldiers nailed Him to the cross and two male- 
factors with Him, one on His right and one on His 
left. The Lord Jesus, however, as the true priest 
who must now attend to His priestly office, prayed 
for those who crucified Him and for all poor sinners, 
saying: "Father, forgive them; for they know not 
what they do." We shall have occasion to see the 
fruit of this prayer when we come to speak of the 
malefactor on the right of Christ ; for to him it was 
that Gospel and sermon, from which he learned to 
know Christ as the Son of God, that He hanged 
upon the cross as the atonement for the sins of the 
whole Avorld, and that after His bodily death He 
would live and reign with God, His Father, in 


The Evangelists announce that Pilate placed the 
superscription, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the 
Jews," written in three languages, over the head of 
the Lord Jesus. It was customary to do this, sc 
that every one might know why people were 
executed, and take warning. The superscription 
over the head of the Lord Jesus was to serve the 
special purpose of admonishing the Jews, even 
while He was hanging miserably on the cross, not 
to be offended in Him, but to take Him for their 
King. But it was in vain ! The title made them 
so indignant that they accosted Pilate thus : "Write 
not, The King of the Jews ; but that He said, I am 
the King of the Jews." But Pilate was much dis- 
pleased with them and would not alter the super- 
scription, which remains an eternal testimony 
against the Jews, that they could not rest until they 
had crucified their King. 

Hereupon the soldiers, four in number, took the 
Lord Jesus' garments, separating them into four 
parts. His coat, however, which was without seam, 
being woven, they did not rend, but cast lots for it. 
And John says that this had been prophesied in the 
Scriptures. He w r ould have us understand by this 
that the taking of the Lord's garments was no 
accident, but done by God's special counsel, that it 
might serve the Church as an emblem ; for it shows, 
first, that the world is not satisfied even when it 
has put Christians to death, but takes what little 
property Christians may have and plunders them. 
This we can see in our old histories, where Julian 
and other blood-hounds and tyrants drove poor 
Christians away from their possessions and took 
from them what they had. We see it not there 


only, but we have living instances of ty rants and 
bishops who are well enough pleased when their 
subjects, contrary to their command, eat meat, hear 
Lutheran (as they call them) sermons, - receive both 
bread and wine in the Sacrament, and the like; for 
then they have plausible reasons to oppress their 
subjects, to sell or trespass upon their property, or 
to tax them as they please. But we can also see 
how much richer such money makes them. Money 
thus unrighteously extorted devours all they have, 
so that afterward they are neither blest nor pros- 

The soldiers' casting lots upon the vesture of the 
Lord can, no doubt, be applied to sects and heretics. 
The Holy Scriptures is the coat which our Lord 
Jesus puts on, and in which He can be seen and 
found. This coat is woven throughout, and all its 
threads are so interlocked that it cannot be cut nor 
divided. But the soldiers who crucify Christ, that 
is, heretics and sects, interest themselves in this 
coat. Their chief fault is that they want the whole 
coat, that is, that they try to convince every one 
that all Scripture harmonizes with them and their 
opinions. She Sacramentarians of our day serve as 
an illustration. They regard the words, "This is 
my body," "This is my blood," as insignificant, 
saying that they are only a single passage, while 
the Bible, as they boast, is full of passages which 
prove Christ to be no longer on earth, but in heaven. 

The manner of all sects is to adopt a special 
opinion without consulting the Word; this opinion 
then hangs continually before their eyes, like blue 
glasses, and everything they see is blue, that is, 
according to their own opinion. But they are 


knaves, as St. Paul calls them, Eph. 4, where he 
admonishes us to be do more "carried about with 
every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and 
cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to 
deceive." The Greek word here translated "sleight" 
is Jcybia, which means, in English, playing at dice, 
or trickery. Now, as the knave masters the die so 
that it must fall to suit him, so sects and fanatics 
master the Word. Every one wants the whole of 
it, and makes use of the die. But let us proceed 
with the history. 

As 'the Lord was hanging on the cross He saw 
His mother and His mother's sister and John with 
them, and "He saith unto His mother, Woman, 
behold thy Son ! Then saith He to the disciple, 
Behold thy mother !" 

After this, men of every station began the most 
heartless scoffing. The chief priests, scribes and 
elders, as Matthew writes, said, "He saved others; 
let Him save Himself, if He be Christ, the chosen 
of God." Witli such pointed, poisonous words 
they wished not only to insult the Lord, but also 
to alienate from Him tb,e people, so that they would 
not respect Him, so that they would slight and 
despise all the miracles they had seen and all the 
sermons they had heard, and so that they would 
regard Him as a blasphemer. The soldiers, who as 
Gentiles cared not about God, mocked Him in a 
different way, giving Him vinegar to drink, "and 
saying, If Thou be the King of the Jews, save 

Finally, even one of the malefactors "railed on 
Him, saying, If Thou be Christ, save Thyself and 
us." But the other rebuked him for this, saying : 


And dost even thou not fear God? There thou 
hangest and in less than an hour or two all will be 
over with thee. Thou hast all thy life been a 
scoundrel, like myself, and hast well deserved this 
punishment. Is it not high time to think of thy 
salvation and to leave such foolish words unspoken? 
After giving this reproof he turned to the Lord 
and said, "Remember me when Thou comest into 
Thy kingdom." And Jesus answered, "Verily, I 
say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in 

In the mean time came deep darkness, most 
unnatural and terrible. The agouy of death pressed 
from the Lord the cry : "My God, my God, why 
hast Thou forsaken me ?" The Jews well enough 
understood the meaning of this cry; still their 
bitterness and their fierceness urged them to pervert 
Christ's word and say : "This man calleth for Elias. 
.... Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to 
save Him !" 

"Jesus knowing that all things were now accom- 
plished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, saith, 
I thirst." Then the soldiers took a sponge filled 
"with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it 
to His mouth. When Jesus therefore had received 
the vinegar, He said, It is finished." By these 
words He meant to say: The world and the devil 
have now done all that lies in their power, and 
therefore I have now done all that the redemption 
of mankind demands, and all that the Prophets 
have foretold in Holy Writ ; the work is done ! 
Then He "cried with a loud voice, .... Father, 
into Thy bauds I commend my spirit ; and having 
said thus, He gave up the ghost." 


Immediately after, "the vail of the temple was 
rent in twain from the top to the bottom," as a 
testimony that the proper offering had been made 
to God at last, and that now the law and its sacri- 
fices, which were merely a type of the sacrifice j list 
made, were forever abrogated. The temple was so 
constructed that the people stood to hear the Word 
of God and to sing and pray in the apartment 
nearest the entrauce. This was separated from 
another apartment, which was similar to the chan- 
cels in some of our churches, into which were 
admitted only the priests, who there offered sacri- 
fices and did the other things belonging to the 
service of God, and which, because none except the 
holy priests dared enter there, was called the holy 
place. Beyond this was still another apartment, 
called the holy of holies, in which stood the mercy- 
seat. This was separated from the holy place h} 
means of a vail, beyond which no one was allowed 
to go except the high priest, and he only once 
every year, when he offered for his sins and for the 
sins of all the people. It is this vail that the 
Evangelists tell us was rent. They mention this to 
testify to us that God's services, as they were con- 
ducted in the holy of holies, are ended and abolished, 
and this because the highest priest, God's Son, has 
offered now unto God, His Father, for the sins of 
the whole world, not the blood of goats and calves, 
but His own body and blood. 

This rending of the vail took place while the 
earth quaked so violently that the rocks rent and 
that the graves of numerous saints were opened. 
Out of these graves, after the resurrection of Christ, 
arose many bodies of the saints, who appeared unto 


many in Jerusalem, who preached concerning the 
Lord Jesus and who testified that He was Christ, 
the true Messiah. These ascended to heaven with 
the Lord Jesus to live there forever, like Enoch 
and Elias, whom God took into heaven alive, the 
former before the flood and the latter three thousand 
years after the creation of the world. God desired 
to preserve to His Church in every age a sure 
testimony of the resurrection from the dead. The 
number was greater, however, in the case before us 
than it had ever been in any other case. 

Now when the centurion, who had to remain at 
the cross, and others, saw the earthquake and the 
other unusual "things that were done, they feared 
greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God." 
"And all the people that came together to that 
sight, beholding the things which were clone, smote 
their breasts, and returned." 

All this, according to the Evangelists, took place 
at the cross before Christ expired. But we cannot 
consider the whole of it in one sermon. For the 
present, therefore, we shall confine ourselves to two 
points. First, why the Evangelists quote more 
Scripture when they give the history of the passion 
than on any other subject. Secondly, why. God 
destined His Son to die upon the cross. 

The Evangelists cite so many Scripture passages 
for every part of the history of Christ's sufferings, 
in order to combat the offence occasioned at sight 
of these sufferings, which must have sorely tried 
the disciples in particular. Not only the unbeliev- 
ing Jews, but even the disciples of Jesus were 
offended at Christ's dying such a miserable and 
ignominious death. Both the Jews and the disci- 


pies thought that if this were Christ He would 
surely build up again the poor, oppressed and 
ruined kingdom. Why, even after Christ's resur- 
rection the disciples continued to think in this way, 
for they lamented that the Lord was about to 
ascend to heaven and depart from the earth, and at 
the mount of Olives they asked Him, "Lord, wilt 
Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to 

When the Lord had now fallen into the hands of 
His enemies and had suffered Himself to be slain 
on the cross, all the hopes which the disciples had 
entertained for His glory vanished. The two disci- 
ples who went to Emmaus freely confessed this, 
saying: "We trusted that it had been He which 
should have redeemed Israel," as if they would say: 
It is all over now ; we hoped for things different 
from those which we have realized. The Jews 
were offended still more seriously ; for, because the 
Lord was dying so shamefully and would not save 
Himself, they regarded Him, in spite of His miracles 
find sermons, as an impostor, and tauntingly de- 
manded that He should come down from the cross 
if He were the Son of God, so that they might 
believe in Him. The Jews hated Jesus, the disciples 
loved Him; the Jews rejoiced in His misfortune, 
the disciples were saddened and discouraged by it. 
Notwithstanding that they were thus differently 
disposed toward Christ, they all, both disciples and 
Jews, thought that it was all over with Him now 
and that He was not the true Messiah. 

But how must we account for this opinion and 
for such offence? Simply thus: they left the 
Scriptures out of sight and had not diligently 


studied the Prophets. For it is written in the 
Prophets, Isa. 53, that the Messiah must suffer and 
die. The Scriptures, Isa. 53, declare that He should 
be "numbered with the transgressors." In the 41. 
Ps. and in the 11. chap, of Zech. we are told that 
His "own familiar friend" should betray Him and 
sell Him for "thirty pieces of silver." The 22. Ps. 
plainly tells us that the soldiers should part His 
garments among them, and cast lots upon His 
vesture, while the 69. declares that when He shall 
thirst in His agony upon the cross they shall give 
Him vinegar to drink. It had been prophesied 
that there should not a bone of Him be broken and 
that a spear should pierce His side, Ex. 12, Zech. 
12, &c. Kow, if the disciples and the Jews had 
carefully studied the writings of the Prophets, in- 
stead of finding cause for offence in Christ's suffer- 
ings and scandalous death, they would have found 
comfort therein. If they had studied the Scrip- 
tures, the fact that it came to pass just as the Holy 
Spirit, who cannot lie nor err, through the Prophets 
and in the Psalms, had predicted concerning Christ, 
would have led them to the firm conclusion that 
this was the Messiah indeed. But they gave no 
heed to the Scriptures, and therefore could not 
resist the offence which, like a flood, swept them 
away, so that they entirely lost Christ. 

The Apostles personally experienced the disad- 
vantage of departing from the Scriptures and not 
following them, and therefore continually quote 
the Scriptures as they write the history of the pas- 
sion. By so doing they would say : It seems ridic- 
ulous that the crucified Jesus, who hangs there so 
miserably upon the cross, and who was treated so 


unmercifully and with such excessive wantonness 
by the soldiers, should be the Son of God and the 
true Messiah. But let us not be offended in Him ! 
If we notice what the Holy Spirit had predicted 
long before through the Prophets concerning the 
Messiah, we shall find that this Jesus is the true 
Messiah, and that He bore what had been appointed 
for the Messiah to bear. It is most certainly true 
that if we do not hold to the Word we shall not be 
able to defend ourselves against the least offence. 
We are lost unless we take refuge in the Word. 

Every one should, for this reason, flee, as if the 
devil himself were in pursuit, from sects and fanatics, 
like the Pope, the Sacramentarians and others, who 
try to substitute human notions for the written 
Word. If we yield to such as these, we step, as it 
were, from the rock into the quicksand, where, the 
more we try to gain a foot-hold, the more we sink, 
and where it is impossible to save ourselves. God's 
Word alone is the true and enduring rock that 
affords a sure foundation. Let him, therefore, w r ho 
would walk in the right way, see that he has God's 
Word. When Christ says, "This is my body," 
"this is my blood," let him believe and not follow 
the deceivers who say, It is mere bread, it is mere 
wine. When Christ says, "He that believeth on 
me shall never see death," let him believe it and 
not obey the Pope, who points him to the sacrifice 
of the mass, to the intercession of saints and to 
good works. Then he may be sure that he is right, 
and that he has escaped the offence. 

We now propose briefly to consider also the 
second point, viz. : why it was decreed in God's 
especial counsel that God's Son, our Lord and 


Saviour, should die just as He did ; for the Jews 
held the death upon the cross as the most offensive 
and disgraceful, and as far more detestable than we 
hold the death upon the gallows or the wheel. We 
find the reason for this written Deut. 21 : u And if 
a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and 
he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a 
tree, his body shall not remain all night upon the 
tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; 
(for he that is hanged is accursed of God ;) that 
thy land be not defiled, which the Lord thy God 
giveth thee for an inheritance." 

Now, it is indifferent whether God pronouuces 
this severe judgment upon those banged in view of 
the future calamity that His Son Himself should be 
thus slain, or in view of the past calamity that 
disobedient man fell in Paradise and ate of the 
forbidden fruit. The chief and most important 
consideration here is, that we should learn and 
remember well that God calls all those accursed 
who die on the tree. For from this it immediately 
follows that, since Christ also died on a tree, He 
too became a curse and was called accursed. Hence 
the devil and the world took particular delight in 
bringing upon Him that very death which God 
Himself had called accursed. Paul, however, 
teaches us how we must understand this passage in 
Deut., and whether its contents ought to be a sub- 
ject for joy or for offence; for in speaking of it he 
says, Gal. 3 : 

"Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the 
law, being made a curse for us ; for it is written, 
Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree ; that 
the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gen- 


tiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive 
the promise of the Spirit through faith." 

We should, by all means, consider this passage 
carefully. Paul very nicely brings the two little 
words, "curse" and "blessing," side by side, and 
leads us back to the promise made to Abraham 
when Gol said, "In thy seed shall all the nations 
of the earth be blessed." For it follows that, if in 
Abraham's seed all the nations of the earth were to 
be blessed, all the nations of the earth must have 
been under the curse; else they would not have 
needed a promise of blessing. Again, this seed, in 
which the blessing was to come, must have been 
that only blessed seed, with which God is not 
wroth, but which He accompanies with pure grace 
and blessing. It is plain, however, who this seed 
-of Abraham is ; namely, Jesus Christ, born of the 
virgin Mary, the Only Begotten of the Father, and 
the only one full of grace and truth. All others, 
counting from Adam to the very last man, are not 
children of grace by nature, but God is angry with 
them and hostile to them, and they are not blessed, 
but cursed. And why ? Because they all are sinners. 

But behold the result! The blessed seed of Abra- 
ham is nailed to that tree, or cross, to which God 
refers when He says, "Cursed is every one that 
hangeth on a tree ;" and it is therefore no longer 
called the blessed seed, but the accursed. Paul 
comes out boldly with this, saying, Christ was 
"made a curse." Let us hear the reason for this. 

It is we who, on account of our sins, are a curse, 
and under the wrath of God. Christ, the only 
begotten Son of God, is full of grace and truth. 
How, then, dees He come to he nailed to the tree? 


Why does He thrust Himself under the wrath of 
God? It was for our sake, Paul tells us; "He was 
made a curse for us ;" He desired to bear God's 
wrath and atone for our sins, that we might be 
made blessed, that is, receive the Holy Spirit, be 
freed from sin, and become the children of God. 
This may be illustrated by the case of a poor beggar 
who has many debts, but is unable to pay them ; 
another man, who is able to pay these debts, comes 
to his assistance, becomes his surety, thus making 
himself a debtor, and pays the poor man's debts. 
Paul expresses this very nicety, Rom. 8 : "The law 
could not" deliver us from sin and death, and so 
God Himself helped us. He sent "His own Son in 
the likeness of sinful flesh," that is, His Son became 
man, assuming our flesh and blood. And God "for 
sin, condemned sin in the flesh," that is, God has 
made us free from sin through His only begotten 
Son, who became a sin-offering and had to atone 
for sin, thus bringing the blessing of Abraham 
upon us who were under the curse. In 2 Cor. 5 r 
Paul himself interprets this latter: God "hath made 
Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin ; that we 
might be made the righteousness of God in Him." 
Christ, therefore, became both "a curse," and 
afterward also "sin," that is, a sin-offering, upon 
which rest the sins of all men, and hence also the 
wrath of God and a miserable death. Since these 
things rest upon this offering, we are relieved, for 
they rest on us no longer. This is the reason why 
John the Baptist calls Him a Lamb, meaning a 
sheep for the slaughter, a Sacrifice, appointed by 
God to take away the sins of the whole world. 
And the Lord Himself says, John 12 : "And I, if I 


be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto 
me." And again, John 3 : "As Moses lifted up 
the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son 
of man be lifted up ; that whosoever believeth in 
Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." 

Paul says that he did not know anything and 
was "determined not to know anything," "save 
Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." Christ was 
-crucified so that He might sanctify, deliver and 
justify us, who, had we been left to ourselves, 
would have eternally remained and perished under 
sin and death, and under the t}^ranny of Satan. 

And should we now be offended at the cross? 
Was it, after all, an ignominious death ? We should 
heartily thank God that His Son hangs upon the 
cross, bearing the curse under which we should 
still be on account of our sins. There He hangs as 
one condemned, and as one whom God hates and 
visits now with shame and want and agony. This 
is so, Paul says, for thy sake and for my sake, that 
the blessing might come on us. For if the curse 
had continued to rest on us, we would never have 
received the blessing. But lo, the blessed Seed 
draws near and takes the curse, which rests on us, 
upon Himself, and the blessing, which rests on 
Him, He gives to us. Since He would and should 
become a curse for us, no other death except this 
•death on the cross was suitable, for this is the 
death which God's Word had declared accursed. 

Let us, then, thoroughly learn here to judge, not 
according to what the eye perceives, but according 
to what the Word of God declares. According to 
appearances the Lord Jesus' death is a shameful 
death and, as God Himself calls it, an accursed 


death ; and the tree on which He dies, an execrable 
tree, — a cursed cross, and this because all our sins 
hang on it. For sin and the curse, or God's anger, 
and every misfortune, — all these belong together. 
Therefore Isaiah says : "Many were astonished at 
Thee; His visage was so marred more than any 
man, and His form more than the sons of men." 
Again : "When we shall see Him, there is no 
beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised 
and rejected of men ; a man of sorrows, and 
acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our 
faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed 
Him not." This is the way these things appear, 
and it is impossible for human reason to see them 
in a different light, because God calls every one 
accursed who dies on a tree. The cross is cursed ; 
He who hangs on it is cursed ; the cause of His 
hanging there is also cursed, for sin demands the 
curse ; and the greater the number of sins that lie 
on the Lord Jesus, the greater also the curse. 

But let us look a little further and find what 
follows from this that Christ, the blessed Seed, dies 
such an accursed death and becomes a curse for us 
Himself. Paul, in very appropriate words, states 
this as the result : "That the blessing of Abraham 
might come on the Gentiles," and that thus "we 
might receive the Holy Spirit." This we find to be 
altogether different from that which we can see 
with the bodily eye. This disgraceful death which 
God has cursed is an offence to the eye, but to us it 
is a blessed death, for it takes the curse away from 
us and brings God's blessing to us. The tree which 
in itself is an accursed tree, is for us a blissful tree. 
It is that precious altar, upon which God's Son 


offers Himself to God, His Father, for our sins. It 
is that glorious altar, at which He appears as the 
true and eternal priest. For He is brought to the 
tree, and He makes it a blessed altar, that we might 
be released from sin, and receive God's grace and 
be God's children. 

~No wonder, then, that the old teachers enter- 
tained such excellent thoughts about the cross and 
the accursed tree. There in Paradise, they say, a 
beautiful tree occasioned our falling into sin and 
death ; here, however, an old, dry, yes accursed tree 
occasioned our deliverance from sin and our receiv- 
ing everlasting life. Here hangs God's Son with 
arms extended as a testimony that He will cast no 
one out, but gladly receive every one and draw all 
unto Him, as He says He will, John 12. His head 
is lifted toward heaven, pointing out to us the way 
of life eternal. His feet reach toward the ground 
where they bruise the head of Satan, that old ser- 
pent creeping on the earth, forcing from him all 
his power. That power over us which Satan 
received because of our sins he surely loses now, in 
virtue of the dear Lord Jesus' hanging on the cross, 
where He atones for our sins with His death and 
becomes a curse in our stead. 

Therefore, let us here learn to acknowledge and 
to praise our merciful heavenly Father's gracious 
will toward us. For He spared not His own Son, 
but delivered Him up to die, yea, to die upon the 
cross, and suffered Him to be made a curse ; so that 
we might obtain the blessing, be set free from sin, 
receive the Holy Spirit, and through Him become 
God's children and be eternally saved. God grant 
this to us all. Amen. 


Christ's Prayer on the Cross. — The Malefactor 
on the Right. 

Luke 23, 32-43. And there were also two others, malefactors, led 
with Him to be put to death. And when they were come to the place 
which is called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the malefactors, 
one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, 
Father, forgive them ; for they know not what they do. And they 
parted His raiment, and cast lots. And the people stood beholding. 
And the rulers also with them derided Him, saying, He saved others; 
let Him save Himself, if He be Christ, the chosen of God And the 
soldiers also mocked Him, coming to Him, and offering Him vinegar, 
and saying. If Thou be the King of the Jews, save Thyself. And a 
superscription also was written over Him in letters of Greek, and 
Latin, and Hebrew, This is the King of the Jews. And one of the 
malefactors which were hanged railed on Him, saying, If Thou be 
Christ, save Thyself and us. Bnt the other answering, rebuked him, 
saving, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemn 
nation ? and we indeed justly ; for we receive the due reward of our 
deeds : but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto 
Jesus, Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom. 
And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou 
be with me in paradise. 

ie holy Evangelist here mentions two things 
that are very consolatory. Therefore, al- 
though the other Evangelists have omitted them in 
their record of Christ's sufferings, we shall treat of 
them here, so that this record may he before us in 
its completeness. The first of these things is, that 
Christ, immediately after the cross, to which He 
had been nailed, was erected, began to pray, saying, 
"Father, forgive them; for they know not what 
they do." The other thing we wish to notice is, 
that the malefactor on the right of Christ, hearing 
this prayer, learned from it that Jesus was the Son 


of God and the very Christ, and therefore desired 
to be remembered by Him when He should have 
come into His kingdom. 

Let us now consider these two things, for they 
are full of consolation and we can never sufficiently 
meditate upon them nor explain them. And, 
besides all this, it is necessary for us, not only to 
behold the. works and sufferings of this Man, but 
also most carefully to heed the words proclaimed 
by Him ; for these declare the reason of His deeds 
and sufferings, and their consequence. 

It is of the greatest importance, however, to dis- 
tinguish between the suffering of our Lord Jesus 
and that of all other men. This distinction is 
momentous, not only because Jesus Christ is eternal 
God, who created heaven and earth and all things, 
but also because His suffering had a peculiar cause, 
and because the benefit, or fruit, of His suffering is 
such that it could not have been produced by the 
suffering of any other man, or of an angel, or of 
any creature. He suffered, as you lately heard, not 
for Himself, but for us, that we might be delivered 
from sin and death. This we also learn from the 
words He here speaks in our text, which words it 
behooves every Christian to observe and to entwine 
in his soul as his most precious treasure and com- 

The words He spoke upon the cross, "Father, 
forgive them; for they know not what they do," 
clearly show, that He was attending to His true 
priestly office even while suspended in the air upon 
the cross; and that He was fulfilling the work 
which brought Him to earth, not only with His 
suffering, in that He sacrificed Himself, but also 


with prayer, both sacrifice aDd prayer belonging to 
the office of the priest. Christ tells us that the 
sacrifice consisted chiefly in His sanctifying Himself 
for our sakes, so that Ave "also might be sanctified 
through the truth," John 17; or, according to 
John 10, in His laying down His "life for the 
sheep." There are many more passages of this 
kind, all of which show that His sufferings were 
not to be for Himself, but for us. The zeal with 
which He here performed this work and offered 
this sacrifice was such that He even prayed that 
the Father would forgive those who crucified Him, 
— that He would pardon and not punish their sin. 
He prayed thus that all might know why He was 
brought to the cross, and that they might receive 
comfort from this knowledge. 

This prayer, therefore, should teach us, first of 
all, that our dear Lord Jesus is a priest, and that 
He fulfilled the duties of His priestly office there 
upon the cross. To pray for sinners is, indeed, one 
of the proper employments of the priesthood. 
]n~ow, Aaron, serving under the law, was invested 
with peculiar priestly apparel made for glory and 
for beauty. But would we know with what priestly 
robes Christ was clad and what the altar was at 
which He served, we need merely look at the cross. 
There we see Him entirely naked, full of wounds 
and void of every trace of sacerdotal splendor. 
iStill He attended to His priestly duties most per- 
fectly and carefully, even praying for His foes. Let 
us not be offended at His unpriestly appearance, 
for the work of this Priest has a significance en- 
tirely different from that of Moses' priests. This 
difference we learn even from the superscription 


written over Him, which declares Him to be "The 
King of the Jews," the correctness of which title 
He had Himself publicly and clearly confessed 
before Pilate. 

Neither does this title harmonize with His 
appearance. Instead of wearing a scarlet robe, His 
body is covered with blood and wounds and bruises. 
Instead of a golden crown. He wears a crown of 
thorns. There upon the cross we see a Priest and 
King, of whom the world is ashamed, whom the 
world despises, and whom it regards as neither 
King nor Priest. This is just what Isaiah says : 
"When we shall see Him, there is no beauty that 
we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected 
of men ; a man of sorrows and acquainted with 
grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; 
He was despised, and we esteemed Him not." This 
Priest offers us His own body and blood upon the 
cross in a place that was dishonored, desecrated, 
yea, accursed. This shall ever be our dearest, 
loveliest and most graceful garment, no matter how 
it is regarded by the world and the natural eye. 
Bulls, heifers and calves were sacrificed in the tem- 
ple upon a consecrated altar, but Christ sacrifices 
Himself upon an altar that was not consecrated. 
Gallows and places of execution are to this day 
horrid and dishonorable, and Moses writes : "He 
that is hanged is accursed of God." Now, the 
world thinks it disgraceful and dishonorable that 
this Priest was not permitted to bring His offering 
even to the place where heifers and calves were 
sacrificed. But this was for us and for our good, 
that we might learn that He has brought a fully 
satisfactory offering for our sins, as it was stated 


already in the preceding sermon. Since our sins 
could not be atoned for and removed by any other 
than this Priest who is the eternal Son of God, it is 
our fault that He could not have a more honorable 
altar and a more precious garment. This is no 
hindrance, however, to the discharge of His office. 
He not only does offer His body and blood, but also 
prays for poor, ignorant sinners. 

We should, therefore, be heartily comforted 
because of this Priest and His office. Even as He 
suffers not alone for those who were present at His 
crucifixion, took hold of Him and nailed Him to 
the cross, so neither does He pray for them alone, 
but also for us, otherwise the praj'er of Christ 
would receive too limited an interpretation. Those 
present then were merely our servants and minis- 
ters. Had it not been my sin and thy sin that 
nailed the Lord Jesus to the cross, these men would 
surely not have been able to molest Him. 

He now comes forward as the true High Priest 
and Lamb of God, by the sacrifice of Himself to 
atone for the sins of all the world and to conquer 
death for men, and this is the only reasou why the 
Jews and Gentiles receive power to harm Him. 
Thus we see that when He prays for those who 
crucify Ilim, He prays for us and all men, who by 
our sins had furnished the cause for His crucifixion 
and death. For this reason we should not regard 
the gallows, or the cross, on which Christ suffered, 
as anything else than that altar, upon which He 
offers up His life and at which He discharges the 
priestly duty of prayer, to the end that we might 
be free from sin and everlasting death. For who- 
ever takes sin away, takes away death also, because 


when sin is gone then death has lost its power, and 
therefore hell also. 

Christ, our only and eternal High Priest, is the 
One who has done this for us on the cross. He has 
reconciled us to God, without the intervention of 
our works, by His own sufferings, having been 
made a curse for us, having died upon the cross for 
our sins, and having finally prayed for sinners. 
Let us, therefore, not forget heartily to thank Him 
for this. 

True, even popery preaches on this theme. But, 
although the text tells us so clearly and the history 
relates to us so plainly that Christ sacrificed Him- 
self upon the cross for our benefit, and that He 
suffered in our stead, popery uses many words to 
make the populace believe that men must be their 
own priests, that they themselves must sacrifice for 
sin, and that their own works must merit life 
eternal. Therefore, when we now teach, and God 
be praised that we do teach it, that the Evangelists 
plainly write that Christ, the true and eternal High 
Priest, has delivered us from death and obtained 
everlasting life for us by the sacrifice of Himself, 
the blind and wretched hirelings of the Pope curse 
and condemn the divine truth and call it scandalous 
heresy. Terrible and Avoeful anger, blindness and 
punishment has surely been poured out upon the 
ungrateful world in that the blasphemers, these 
Papists, themselves confess and preach that Christ 
offered Himself on the cross for us, and, at the 
same time, rage against us and shed innocent blood 
because we teach this doctrine and point the people 
to this sure and everlasting consolation. Truly, 
this is a realization of Isaiah's denunciation against 


the despisers of God's Word : "Hear ye indeed, but 
understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive 
not," and receive ye a hardened and foolish heart. 
If this were not the case it would be inexplicable 
why they so lightly esteem this Sacrifice and place 
all their confidence in their own, man-appointed 
works, such as cities, garments and food, "which 
all," Paul says, "are to perish with the using." 0, 
why will men not take the consolation offered here, 
viz., that Christ sacrificed His body and His life 
and, praying for us, said : Father, here am I, a 
Mediator between Thee and poor sinners; I die 
for them ; I give myself for them ; be gracious unto 

Notwithstanding that our adversaries themselves 
read, confess and preach this, they will continue to 
yell and foam at it and to condemn us as heretics. 
Well, this is the visitation of God's dreadful wrath 
upon them. May the Lord in mercy shield us 
against such visitation. But should He ever suffer 
us to fall, I pray that He would let us fall into a 
sin which we may feel and acknowledge, and not 
into one that bids direct defiance to His grace and 
that is looked upon as holiness, whose outward 
features it assumes. 

Let us, therefore, open our hearts and behold 
Christ, our High Priest, in His proper priestly gar- 
ment and at His proper priestly work. The eye 
does not see Him arrayed in beaut} 7 or in wealth, 
but finds Him ignominiously hanging there in 
misery and wretchedness. But if we look into His 
heart we shall discover ornaments so bright and 
treasures so rich that we can never thank Him for 


them sufficiently. He is adorned, in the first place, 
with that most sincere obedience in which He 
glorifies His Father by permitting Himself to be 
spit upon, scourged and tortured. In this life we 
cannot fully comprehend the glory of. this orna- 
ment ; still we can understand enough of it to 
know that all pearls and purple and gold are 
nothing beside it. His other ornament is that 
great love He has for us which makes Him care so 
little about His life and His sufferings, almost for- 
getting them in the heart-felt interest He takes in 
our condition and in our need, and praying for us 
rather than for Himself. We cannot sufficiently 
understand such love as this ; for in the heart of 
the Lord there is burning such a flame of love for 
us, that He does not seem to see or to feel His own 
most severe suffering, torture and disgrace, but only 
considers and perceives and cares for thy and my 
misery, distress and affliction. 

We cannot help acknowledging that the love of 
the Lord, who is so concerned about us that He 
entirely overlooks His own danger, injury and 
pain, is indeed a mighty, burning love. Father 
and mother, when their dear child is in danger or 
want, rush through the fire to save it, caring not 
for their own safety, but only for that of their 
child. The love of our Lord Jesus is also such that 
He passes through affliction as through a fire, to 
grasp us with the hand of mercy and affection. 
isTow, this is the fitting garment with which our 
eternal High Priest is arrayed. This is not an outer 
vestment for the eye of reason to behold ; but the 
eye of faith perceives it in Jesus within, as His 
words also sufficiently testify. 


The chief thing in the entire history of the pas- 
sion is that Christ gave Himself for us and, caring 
for nothing as much as for our deliverance, reached 
toward us, and pursued us through all manner of 
affliction as through a fire. To this main point we 
should pay especial attention, and cling to it so 
closely that it cannot be wrested from our hands. 

We have need of this doctrine not only as a 
source of comfort, but also as a source of strength, 
with which to counteract the poison prescribed to 
the people by the Pope, who would lift them into 
heaven by their own righteousness and work and 
merit. If our works could have done this, why 
was it necessary for Christ, the Son of Gocl, to sutler? 
But here we find Him obediently and patiently 
bringing His offering, His own body and life, and 
beseeching His Father to have mercy and to for- 
give. This is proof sufficient that nothing of the 
kind could have been accomplished with our works ; 
for it is not as easy a thing to obtain forgiveness of 
sins as the Papists dream. True, it is easy enough 
to put on a cowl and to fast, keep vigils and sing a 
great deal ; but to come into possession of pardon 
for sin requires something quite different from our 
filthy works, and something far greater. If we rely 
on our fasts and vigils and prayers, we will have to 
wait quite a while indeed to receive help of God ! 
But Isaiah states the plan : "He was wounded for 
our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniqui- 
ties ;" "He hath borne our griefs." The Papists 
themselves are constrained to confess that the suf- 
ferings and death of the Lord Jesus are far exalted 
above our prayers, our good works, our sufferings, 
our charity, our fasting. He, therefore, who tries 


to atone for sin with such things as these, shall 
surely not succeed. To succeed in this requires, as 
Isaiah clearly says, a different man and different 
works and merits. Therefore, he who would apply 
his own merits to the removing of sin, blasphemes 
the death and sacrifice and prayer of Christ, because 
he makes his own prayer and offering equal, nay, 
superior, to the offering and prayer of Christ. 
Against this abomination we must diligently guard. 

The Lord does not however, pray at random, but 
makes a distinction between those for whom He 
prays and others, saying, "Father, forgive them ; 
for they know not what they do." He thus desig- 
nates two classes of sinners. Some know that they 
do wrong, and still do so without fear, prompted by 
pure malice and hatred against the acknowledged 
divine truth. These commit the "sin unto death," 
as it is called 1 John 5, that is, the sin against the 
Holy Ghost, if they continue in such willful sin 
and do not confess, abstain from and ask forgiveness 
for it, but remain impenitent to the end, and besides 
blaspheme the Word of God and the truth which 
cannot be gainsaid, as most of the Papists now are 

The Papists know that our doctrine is true and 
divine ; they know that Christ commanded us to 
receive the whole Sacrament, that He did not forbid 
matrimony, that He gave no command concerning 
the sacrifice of the mass, and that He died for our 
sins. Still, they condemn us, who hold these doc- 
trines, as heretics, and punish those of their subjects 
whom they discover believing our doctrine and 
using the Sacrament as it was instituted by Christ. 
This is willful persecution of the truth, and there- 


fore not a sin of ignorance. They commit this sin 
in such a way that it cannot be forgiven them; for 
it is a sin that is in direct conflict with forgiveness, 
because it is neither abandoned nor confessed. 
Forgiveness of sin demands that sin be both con- 
fessed and renounced. 

Other sinners sin ignorantly. But we must 
understand their case correctly. David, for in- 
stance, knew well enough that he was doing wrong 
and sinning against God in taking the wife of 
Uriah and then having him slain. But his carnal 
lust and the devil so impetuously impelled him to 
the deed that he committed it before rightly con- 
sidering what he was doing. Afterward, however, 
he confessed his sin, was grieved by it, wished that 
he had not committed it, and prayed for mercy. 

We all are encumbered with this, sin and are 
easily and unawares led astray. Sometimes we fall 
through fear, sometimes through carelessness and 
weakness, like Peter, and sometimes through pre- 
sumptuousness. Such sins Christ bore with Him 
to the cross and for such He prayed ; for these are 
bare and naked sins, which are not inconsistent 
with grace, being recognized and confessed and 
their forgiveness being sought. Thus we often find 
that harlots, villains, murderers, and other wicked 
people, who know that they have done wrong and 
make no attempt at justifying themselves, find 
mercy. To the believer God does not impute such 
acknowledged sins, because the sacrifice of Christ 
is interposed between them and God. But they 
who knowingly and willfully persist in sin and 
even excuse their sins, sin against the Holy Ghost 
and denv the orrace of God. For them Christ does 


not pray here, but only for those who know not 
what they do, and who, as said before, fall through 
fear, weakness and the like. The latter can rely 
upon the offering and prayer of Christ and can be 
assured that their sins are forgiven, for Christ here 
prays for them, and His prayer was surely accepted. 
We must not doubt this, but find in it consolation 
and joy. 

So much it was meet briefly to say concerning 
Christ's prayer on the cross, with which He declares 
why He is suffering there, namely, that they who 
sin ignorantly and then repent might, for His sake, 
have a merciful God, who does not impute to them, 
but graciously forgives, their sin. 

• Let us now look a little also at the history of the 
malefactor on the right of Christ. We can nowhere 
find an incident of more remarkable beauty than 
here. The poor fellow cannot deny his sins; he 
knows that he has sinned, and that he must now 
die for his sins. He cannot, therefore, boast before 
God of any good works, or of any merit of his own. 
He even reproves his comrade, who, railing on the 
Lord Jesus, said, "If Thou be Christ, save Thyself 
and us," by answering him thus : We are indeed 
justly punished, "for we receive the due reward of 
our deeds : but this Man hath done nothing amiss." 
He thus confesses that he had well deserved that 
dreadful death. It is a matter of astonishment, 
therefore, in the first place, that, having every 
reason to fear God on account of his sins, the male- 
factor still was confident, as we shall hear, that the 
Lord Jesus would take him with Him into His 


It is a matter of great astonishment, in the second 
place, that this one man did not stumble at the 
huge stumbling-stone laid in his way by the entire 
council of Jerusalem, including the temporal and 
spiritual government, which mocked and reviled 
the Lord Jesus. The chief spiritual rulers said : 
"He saved others, let Him save Himself, if He be 
Christ, the Chosen of God." The soldiers also 
mocked Him, saying, "If Thou be the King of the 
Jews, save Thyself;" for the superscription written 
over Him declared that He was "Jesus of Nazareth, 
the King of the Jews." The malefactor crucified 
on the left of Christ said : "If Thou be Christ, save 
Thyself and us." This he said, not because he 
desired help, but because he wanted to insult and 
ridicule the Lord. In short, the whole world is 
offended in Christ, who hangs on the cross, and it 
does not esteem Him. Even the disciples, although 
a part of them stood by the cross, had lost all hope. 

The poor malefactor on the right alone steps 
over the rock of offence and dares to call Christ, 
who hangs on the cross at his side, a Lord and 
King. He gives the lie to all the world, cares not 
what others think of him, and proclaims Christ to 
be an everlasting King. These are his words : 
"Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy 
kingdom." He calls Christ a Lord, says He has a 
kingdom, and desires Him, when He shall have 
entered His kingdom, to remember him. Now, 
the time rendered it certain, that neither of them 
could live till evening. Therefore he believes that 
Christ is the Lord of another and an eternal life. 
This faith and this confession, found, as it was, in 


the midst of a world that despaired of Christ and 
hated Him, must have been indeed a great and 
exquisite faith, — a glorious confession. 

The question may occur to us, whence could the 
malefactor have obtained this abundant and accurate 
knowledge, by which he was able to recognize and 
proclaim Christ as the Lord of eternal life, or who 
could have been his instructor ? Without a doubt, 
he learned this alone from Christ's prayer on the 
•cross. The prophet Isaiah, chap.- 53, declares that 
the Messiah should suffer and be "numbered with 
the transgressors," and also that He should bear 
"the sins of many and make intercession for the 
transgressors." This prophecy was fulfilled on the 
cross. The innocent Lord, who had done no evil, 
hangs there between two murderers. And as He 
begins to pray, and says, "Father, forgive them ; 
for they know not what they do," the malefactor 
catches the little word "Father." People were not 
in the habit of conversing with God in this way. 
Christ is the only One who can speak thus to God, 
and He it is who has taught us thus to speak. The 
malefactor hence concludes that Christ must be 
God's Son, and recognizes Him, by His praying for 
sinners, as the true Messiah, or Christ. The quoted 
passages from Isaiah, and similar passages from 
other prophets which he had heard, either in the 
temple at Jerusalem, or elsewhere in some syna- 
gogue, but which he had not understood, now, no 
doubt, occurred to him. He takes these passages 
together, and the Holy Spirit makes these prophe- 
cies so bright and clear to his soul that he can con- 
tain himself no longer, but confesses with his lips 


what be believes in his heart, and says, ''Lord, 
remember me when Thou comest into Thy king- 

He would say : Thou art the Son of God. For 
our sins Thou sufferest on earth this dreadful death 
upon the cross. But Thou shalt afterward ascend 
into an everlasting kingdom and be Lord over alL 
There, Lord, remember me ! I am willing now 
to die, for I have well deserved death. But do 
Thou not forget me when Thou comest into Thy 
kingdom. — Behold, what a deep knowledge of 
Christ Jesus this man derived from Christ's short 
prayer ! This prayer was the sermon that taught 
him true wisdom. 

The knowledge and confession of Christ which 
proceeded from the malefactor on the cross, is the 
very same knowledge and confession by which God 
preserves the Christian Church to-day. Though 
everything else should fail, and emperors, kings, 
popes and bishops cease to be, God will still retain 
a small company that shall have His Spirit and 
that shall confess His name before the world. 
When the disciples, and others who are closely 
allied to the Lord Jesus, refuse to confess and 
believe, and deny the Lord through fear, and are 
offended in Him and desert Him, then some male- 
factor or murderer must appear, to confess this 
Christ, to preach concerning Him, and to teach 
others what they should think of Him and why 
they should be comforted in Him. The Lord our 
God is determined not to leave Christ without 
followers who confess Him, even if He must have 
recourse to the thief upon the gallows, or the 
murderer upon the wheel. 


This is, therefore, a consoling history ; for it 
teaches us, first of all, that they who follow Christ 
and receive all mercy from Him, are none other 
than those sinners who confess their sins and 
heartily pray for grace; these shall receive grace 
and mercy. With His previous prayer, "Father, 
forgive them," &c, His present action corresponds; 
He suffers now, that sin may be forgiven. And 
then, upon the cross, before He dies, the dear Lord 
soon proves, in the case of the malefactor, or mur- 
derer, how beneficial and powerful His sufferings 
are and what they avail. He there proves that His 
sufferings benefit all poor sinners who, with the 
malefactor, believe and confess that Christ is an 
eternal King; that by His agony, death and resur- 
rection He has acquired for them the forgiveness of 
their sins and their deliverance from everlasting 
death ; and that He will take them into His eternal 

Hence we can conclude with such certainty as 
not to entertain the vestige of a doubt, that Christ 
did not offer Himself on the cross for saints, for no 
mortal, let him be who he may, is holy of himself; 
but that He offered Himself for sinners, for He 
came to call sinners to repentance and not the 
righteous, as He Himself says, Matt. 9. Therefore, 
he who tries to get to heaven by means of a holy 
life, good works, and personal merits, deceives 
himself. He who does not confess himself a sinner, 
can tind no access to the Lord Jesus"; for Christ did 
not die for His own, but for the sinner's sake. 

Christ converted the malefactor on the cross into 
a saint, not suffering him to remain and to perish 
in his sins. We should therefore regard this his- 


tory as an example showing by very deed what the 
Redeemer sought and acquired by His sufferings, 
and what He accomplished by the priestly sacrifice 
and prayer which He ottered on the cross. He took 
sin upon Himself, not because He delights in sin, 
neither because He would have us remain under 
sin and continue in iniquity. No, He suffers for 
sinners so that they need not go on in sin, and so 
that they may become converted and be pious and 
holy. This His purpose was accomplished in the 
case of the malefactor, who, being converted, 
accused himself of sin, but still trusted in the Lord 
Jesus, believing that God, through Him and for 
His sake, would forgive his sins and give him life 

The malefactor is thus made an entirely different 
man. His shameful and justly merited death now 
becomes a real act of divine service. He suffers no 
longer as a murderer, but as a saint. He dies in 
the true confession and in heart-felt confidence in 
God's grace through Christ. He is sincerely grieved 
for his sins. He now begins to obey God and to 
do many good works. With his sufferings he 
honors and praises God. Publicly, before all the 
world, he glorifies the crucified Jesus, exhorting 
and admonishing every one to repent and to believe 
in this Lord. In short, his faith in Christ does not 
only cause him to be a saint, but it even bears him 
into paradise and into everlasting life, according to 
Christ's promise : "To-day shalt thou be with me 
in paradise." 

Let us follow this example and not act like the 
rude and ungodly, who say: I will sin so that 
Christ may have alliance to eave me and to show 


me mercy. No, no ; but let us say : I am born in 
sin and am full of filth and evil lusts. It is, there- 
fore, not necessary for me first to sin in order to be 
able to confess myself a sinner. I have, alas, been 
only too great a sinner from the very beginning ! 
I am already under the curse of God and condemned 
to eternal death. Therefore, since God in infinite 
compassion calls me to repentance, will I now turn 
myself unto Him and take refuge in this Lord, 
whose suffering has ransomed sinners, and whose 
innocent death has delivered me from the death so 
well deserved and long since merited, and who has 
reconciled me unto God ! 

He, however, who abuses this sermon of mercy, 
and refuses to forsake and confess and repent of his 
sins, may look upon the murderer on the left of 
Christ and upon the rulers of the Jews and upon 
the soldiers, and consider how they fared in their 
wickedness and what they merited with their im- 
penitent lives. If we would be benefited by the 
Lord Jesus and by His agony and prayer, we must 
follow the example of the malefactor who confessed 
his sins and prayed for grace, and acknowledged 
that Christ was the Lord and the King of everlast- 
ing life. May the dear Lord Jesus, our eternal 
King, grant us this. Amen. 


Christ Commits His Mother to the Care of John. — 

The Soldiers do sot Break the Legs of Christ, 

but with a Spear Pierce His Side, from 

which Blood and Water Flow. 

John 19, 25-37. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, 
and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magda- 
lene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple standing 
by, whom He loved, He saith unto His mother, Woman, behold thy 
Son ! Then saith He to the disciple, Behold thy mother ! And from 
that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. After this, 
Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scrip- 
ture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel 
full of vinegar : and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it 
upon hyssop, and put it to His mouth. When Jesus therefore had 
received the vinegar, He said, It is finished : and He bowed His head, 
and gave up the ghost. The Jews therefore, because it was the prep- 
aration, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the 
sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was a high day,) besought Pilate 
that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 
Theu came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the 
other which was crucified with him. But wben the}' came to Jesus, 
and saw that He was dead already, they brake not His legs : but one 
of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith came there 
out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record 
is true ; and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. 
For these things were done, that the Scripture should be fulfilled, A 
bone of Him shall not be broken. And again another Scripture saith 
They shall look on Him whom they pierced. 

>t. John, toward the end of the passion history, 
relates three things, about which the other 
Evangelists do not write, but which are, neverthe- 
less, very important in point of doctrine and con- 
solation. These also must be considered, that we 
may have the w T hole of this history before us. 


The first of these things is, that Christ, while on 
the cross, commends His mother to John, and also 
John to His mother, so that they might be inclined 
toward each other as are a mother and her son, and 
that they might love and in every way assist each 
other. John tells us too that he immediately took 
the mother of Jesus into his care and treated her 
as if she had been his own mother. 

This, narrative is generally regarded as an illus- 
tration of the fourth commandment, which says : 
"Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days 
may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God 
giveth thee." With this accords the fact that John 
lived longer than the rest of the Apostles, namely, 
sixty-eight years after the resurrection. Although 
this explanation is not improper as far as it goes, it 
is still too narrow ; for that which the Lord does 
and says here upon the cross dare not be regarded 
as done and said for only a few individuals. Christ 
intended His works and words to embrace the 
whole world, but especially the Christian Church. 

That, therefore, which Christ here says to Mary 
and John alone, we must regard as a command for 
all Christians and for the entire Church. Since 
Christ hangs upon the cross and, by His death, 
saves us all from sin and death, we must be toward 
each other like a mother and her son, who in all 
things sincerely love, aid and advise each other. 
This is the meaning also of the command which 
the Lord so often repeats during the last Supper : 
"This is my commandment, that ye love one an- 
other, as I have loved you ;" "A new commandment 
I give unto you, That ye love one another, as I 
have loved you." The love between a mother and 


her children is the deepest and most sincere that 
can be found. 

The Lord uses the words "mother" and "son" 
with special reference to both parts of the Church, 
viz., to those who teach the Word and to those who 
hear. Even as a mother nourishes her infant and 
diligently cares for it till it is grown up and has 
become strong, so honest pastors also labor and 
take pains to teach the people and render them 
good Christians. Thus Paul calls his disciples, 
whom he had reared as with a mother's trouble 
and toil, children, 1 Cor. 4; Gal. 4; 1 Thess. 2. 
The Church cannot be properly conducted unless 
they who exercise the office of the ministry have 
for her the affection of a mother. If they have not 
this love, the result will be indolence, indifference 
and unwillingness to suffer. The Lord very ex- 
plicitly teaches this in the 21. chapter of John. He 
there commands Peter to preach, but not until He 
had three times asked him : "Simon, son of Jonas, 
lovest thou me?" By this question He meant to 
say : Unless thou lovest the lambs as a mother 
loves her children, whom she tries to rescue from 
the flames even at the peril of her own life, thou 
wilt never be fit for a preacher. In thy office as 
pastor, trouble, toil, ingratitude, hatred, envy and 
many a cross will be thy lot. Now, if the pastors 
have no motherly heart, no fervent love for the 
flock, these shall receive poor care indeed. 

On the other hand, again, they who have not 
received the command to preach, but stand in need 
of information and instruction, must deport them- 
selves like sons, suffering themselves to be taught, 
led, nourished, and cared for in other ways, thus 


conducting themselves toward their teachers as a 
pious child conducts itself toward its mother. 
True, children's love for their mother is not as 
great as the mother's love for her children, even as 
the proverb says : Amor descendit, non ascendit, 
that is, love moves downward, not upward. Still, 
nature prompts pious children to honor their 
parents, and to serve them and yield to them in 
everything that they desire and need. When this 
is the relation between mother and son, between 
pastor and congregation, then all is well. 

If, however, the ministers of the Church are 
lacking in motherly affection, or if the hearers are 
void of childlike fidelity, it is out of the question 
that things should go right and that God should be 
pleased. This Ave have sadly experienced in the 
case of the Pope, the bishops and the whole priestly 
rabble, for they have no such motherly love. They 
think that the office was given them merely that 
they might be great lords and live at their ease. 
Therefore, they not* only take poor care of the 
sheep, but they even, to their heart's content, skin 
and butcher the lambs in life, property and soul, as 
we only too well see. Again, we frequently find 
the deficiency in the hearers, that they, like ill-bred 
children, do not properly provide for their pastors. 
This is the case, among us, with peasants, with 
citizens, and especially with the nobility, who deal 
so closely, stingily and niggardly with their pastors, 
that seldom one is found who willingly gives to the 
ministry as much as he should. And this is done 
in spite of St. Paul's pointed and earnest admoni- 
tion, not to communicate sparingly of our carnal 
things unto them that communicate unto us spirit- 


ual things. Such ingratitude cannot fail to injure 
the cause of the Gospel, neither can God's punish- 
ment fail to come upon such perverse children. 

We should, therefore, carefully observe and take 
to heart this command of our Lord Jesus, who, 
upon the cross, shows such tender solicitude both 
for the teacher and the disciple, that is, for the 
whole Church. Teachers and pastors He exhorts 
to motherly love, and pulpits and congregations to 
childlike faithfulness, gratitude and obedience. If 
both parties obey these blessed instructions of our 
dear Lord Jesus, all will be well and God will 
bless and give success. So much for the first point. 

The other two points, that no bone of Christ was 
broken and that His side was pierced with a spear, 
do not appear to be of much importance. Since, 
however, the Evangelist John adduces the clear 
testimony of the Scriptures, that Moses and Zecha- 
riah had prophesied these things many centuries 
before they took place, and since the Holy Spirit 
speaks nothing that is useless or vain, we are bound 
to confess that these two facts are of great moment, 
however much they may have the appearance of 
trifles. The holy Evangelist Johu, according to 
true apostolic custom, confers on us a special bless- 
ing by everywhere quoting and interpreting Scrip- 
ture so appropriately. 

Moses, as we have already heard, wrote the clear 
command that no one should "remain all night 
upon the tree," for God had said that this would 
defile the land. As this was the day for the prep- 
aration, and as the Sabbath would begin with the 
setting of the sun, the Jews besought Pilate to 
have the bodies removed from the cross, so that 


they might be buried yet by day, before the begin- 
ning of the festival. Pilate gave his consent. But 
as they found the two malefactors yet living, the 
soldiers, as John says, hastened their departure, at 
the command of the Jews, by breaking their arms 
and legs, as they were hanging on the cross. They 
intended to do the same with the Lord Jesus, but 
He gave up the ghost before they had finished with 
the two malefactors, and therefore "they brake not 
His legs. But one of the soldiers with a spear 
pierced His side," from which, to the astonishment 
of all, both blood and water flowed. These two 
things, as I have said, seem of little importance, 
but John testifies that they were not mere accidents, 
but that both of them had been foretold, the one by 
Moses, "Neither shall ye break a bone," the other 
by Zechariah, "They shall look upon me whom 
they have pierced." 

Now, it is true, indeed, that what Moses says, 
Ex. 12 and Num. 9, refers to the passover. How, 
then, could it occur to the Evangelist John to say : 
"These things were done that the Scripture should 
be fulfilled, A bone of Him shall not be broken," 
and what does he mean by this? He would simply 
teach us to look upon the Lord Jesus on the cross 
as the true Passover, of which the old passover in 
the law is merely the type or symbol. 

"When God desired with violence to weaken the 
might of Pharaoh in Egypt and to frustrate his 
obstinate wantonness and design, and to save His 
people Israel, He commanded His people, the Jews, 
in each house, in the appointed night, to slay a 
lamb of the first year and roast and eat it, but to 


strike its blood on the door-posts. The destroying 
angel was to pass over that honse on whose doors 
he should see the token of the blood and smite none 
of its inmates. But where the token of the lamb's 
blood on the door was wanting, there the angel 
was in that night to smite throughout all Egypt 
the first-born both of man and beast. As Moses 
had told the people at God's command, so it came 
to pass. In the morning dead men and beasts were 
found in the houses of all the Egyptians, the 
destroyer having spared the Jews alone, because 
their doors were marked and protected by the blood 
of the lamb. 

Let us now turn to our Paschal Lamb, Christ 
Jesus. He desires to punish Pharaoh and all Egypt, 
that is, sin, death and Satan, and to rescue His 
Christian Church from tyranny. Therefore He 
suffers Himself to be slain like the lamb of old, and 
to be sacrificed upon the cross, so that He might 
sprinkle us with His blood, and so that the destroy- 
ing angel, who, on account of our sins, had brought 
death upon us, and had received power over us, 
might pass over us and do us no harm. Paul, 1 
Cor. 5, refers to this so beautifully : "For even 
Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us," that we 
might be partakers of His blood, and that Satan, 
death and sin might have no authority over us and 
no power to do us hurt. This it is that John wishes 
us to learn here from his statement that Christ, 
like the paschal lamb, had no bone broken. 

We would, however, consider here also the other 
particulars which the Jews had to observe with 
reference to the passover, so that when we see how 
perfectly the passover harmonizes with Christ, we 


may find more consolation in this sacrifice made 
for us, and take greater interest in the Lord Jesus. 

The lamb was required to be without blemish, a 
male of the first year, healthy and strong; no other 
lamb would have answered the purposes of the 
passover. Now, as lambs one year old are very 
prolific, so this Lamb, the Lord Jesus, brought 
forth and built up His Church. The Lord Jesus is 
also without all blemish and deficiency, for He is 
the Son of God, and His flesh and blood is not sin- 
ful like ours, but He is holy altogether. 

The Jews were directed to take the lamb from 
the sheep, or from the goats, on the tenth day of 
the month, and to keep it by itself until the four- 
teenth day of the month. In this way Christ was 
taken from the fold of God, that is, from the Jews, 
w T ho were God's people, and for this reason He is 
called the Son of Abraham, or of David. He was 
separated for the special office of preaching God's 
kingdom among His people, the Jew T s, during the 
four years preceding His passion. 

That the lamb had to be eaten in the evening, 
indicates that Christ should come in the latter 
times, when the Jews were no longer to be the 
people of God, and when the law and ceremonies 
of Moses were to cease. It is for this reason that 
the Lord sometimes compared His Gospel to a 
supper, and that the Apostles called the days of 
the New Testament "the latter times" and "the last 

The lamb dared not to be eaten sodden or raw, 
but roasted. Throughout all Scripture, fire is an 
emblem of suffering and affliction. The lamb 
roasted with fire is, therefore, a type of Christ, who 


suffered death upon the cross. We dare not par- 
take of Him raw, that is, he who would receive 
Him at all, dare not be careless, secure and profane 
as our Epicureans are, who think that they can 
believe and do as they please, and still be good 
Christians. These do not partake of the lamb 
properly, and cannot do so any more than they can 
who eat it sodden with water, that is, they who do 
not keep the doctrine pure, but adulterate it with 
human teachings and traditions, as the Pope does. 

Unleavened bread and bitter herbs had to be 
eaten with the lamb. Thus Paul says : "Let us 
keep the feast, not with old leaven," refusing to 
check sin and to amend our conduct; "neither 
with the leaven of malice and wickedness," dealing 
in hypocrisy and not heartily repenting ; "but with 
the unleavened bread of sincerity," keeping a clear 
conscience and living in the fear of God; "and 
truth," sincerely, not hypocritically, asking God's 
blessing and earnestly desiring to regulate ourselves 
according to His Word. This is the unleavened 

The herbs signify the holy cross ; for, as Paul 
says : "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus 
shall suffer persecution." 

No part of the lamb was allowed to remain, but 
the whole of it had to be eateu, or. else that which 
remained was to be burned with fire. Neither 
should a bone of it be broken. Just so it is with 
Christ. He who would be a true Christian dares 
not eat one part and leave another part uneaten. 
He must accept and believe everything that Christ 
says, and must not, like the fanatics and sects, eat 
His words piecemeal. Arius- was satisfied with 


everything else, only he would not believe that 
Christ was eternal God. The Anabaptists reject 
the baptism of children, despise this, the original 
institution, and fancy that they have found a better. 
The Sacramentarians of the present day accept 
everything Christ says, and think themselves excel- 
lent Christians. But it is not to their liking that 
Christ said, when He took the bread, "Take, eat ; 
this is my body," and when He took the cup, 
"Drink ye all of it ; for this is my blood of the New 
Testament," and this they do not want to believe. 
They do not like the taste of this and so they leave 
it uneaten, in spite of God's command that the 
whole of this Paschal Lamb should be eaten, or else 
the remainder burned with fire. And more than 
this, they even break the bones, that is, torture, 
crucify and mangle at pleasure the Word of the 
Lord Jesus, only so that they may give their scan- 
dalous error some plausibility. Thus we find that 
the Pope, the Anabaptists, the Sacramentarians 
and, in short, all the sects, eat only that part of the 
lamb that suits their taste, and let the parts that 
they do not relish remain, and break them to 

What must be done with the blood has already 
been related, viz., the blood of the Lamb is to pre 
vent sin, death and hell from hurting us, and, for 
all time to come, to hinder Pharaoh and the Egyp- 
tians, that is, Satan and the world, from oppressing 
and subduing us. Christ was sacrificed that He 
might make us free, John 8, and undo and destroy 
the work of Satan. 

Of all this John would remind us when he says : 
"These things were done that the Scripture should 


be fulfilled, A bone of Him shall not be broken. '* 
He wishes us to regard the passover as the faithful 
picture of the entire benefit and of the real fruit of 
our Lord Jesus' sufferings. He wishes us to see 
that Christ was sacrificed for us and that His blood 
is to deliver us from sin, death and the devil, which 
constantly oppress, alarm and coerce us in the same 
way in which Pharaoh retained and vexed the 
children of Israel in Egypt. The blood of our 
Paschal Lamb, Christ Jesus, has abolished this 
servitude. We now have peace, and, fully free 
from every burden, we shall pass from dangerous 
Egypt over to the land of promise and to life 

We shall now consider the third point, which 
the Evangelist evideutl} 7 regarded as very important. 
He not only introduces the testimony of the Prophet 
Zechariah, who had prophesied concerning this 
piercing of Christ's side ; but he also uses many 
and solemn words to affirm the miracle, that blood 
and water flowed from the dead body. This was 
unnatural, because when a man is dead his blood is 
cold and does not flow; and it was still more 
unnatural for both blood and water to flow from a 
corpse. Therefore John says : "He that saw it 
bare record, .... and he knoweth that he saith 
true, that ye might believe." He thus calls our 
attention to this miracle as one of great importance, 
so that we might diligently study it and finally 
learn from it to believe; that is, that we might 
through Christ and His death, as was said above 
when speaking of the passover, have the hope of 
the forgiveness of sins and of everlasting life. This 
is the chief design of this narfative as given by the 


Evangelist, with whom, as we shall soon see, the 
prophet completely corresponds. 

First of all, however, let us rid ourselves of the 
idea that it was merely a casual circumstance that 
one of the soldiers thrust his spear into the corpse's 
side. The soldier, of course, did this in ignorance 
of any exalted signification the act might have. 
Still it was done by God's special arrangement, else 
the Holy Spirit would not have prophesied concern- 
ing it through Zechariah so many centuries before. 
We see that the Lord retained the wounds in His 
body after the resurrection, and that He showed 
them to His disciples in particular as a mark by 
which they might recognize Him. This piercing 
of Christ's side and this gushing forth of blood and 
water were not, therefore, mere accidents, but they 
were intended to mean and to accomplish some- 

We must here be on our guard, lest we imitate 
the example commonly set by rude people, who 
say : It is none of my business what flowed from 
the Lord Jesus' side ; it is enough for me to know 
that He died on the cross. Let us not think in this 
way, but let us honor the Holy Ghost and contrib- 
ute to our own comfort by carefully learning what 
was accomplished by this piercing of Christ's side 
with the spear, which John so faithfully relates and 
which Zechariah had foretold so long before. ■ 

In the first place, it is certain beyond all dispute, 
that it is unnatural for a deceased body to sweat or 
bleed. As soon as blood grows cold it no longer 
flows, but it stagnates. The dead body before us 
now, however, is different foom all other dead 


bodies, and hence things take place in it that do 
not take place in any other body. True, Christ's 
body was flesh and blood like our own, and it died 
as ours must die. Yet, His flesh and blood were 
sinless, and therefore He died in such a way that 
even in His death a sign of life remained. The 
blood in all other bodies is soon cold and stagnant, 
but in the body of the Lord Jesus it remains so 
warm and active that, as soon as His side is pierced, 
it rushes forth as from a living body's opened vein. 
John wishes us to observe this carefully, and to 
learn from it that it is the true nature of the blood 
of our dear Lord Jesus to flow and live and be 
efficacious even after He has died. Neither was 
the blood of the paschal lamb used while the lamb 
lived, but after it was dead and had been eaten. 
The angel went by night through Egypt and smote 
all the first-born, but the houses of the Jews which 
were marked with the blood of the lamb he spared, 
and in them smote none. And thus the blood of 
our dear Lord Jesus continues still to live and flow, 
having neither become stagnant nor grown cold. 
It flows and gushes after He is dead, and all who 
are sprinkled with it have the forgiveness of sin 
and are children of eternal life. 

We should mark this well, for this unnatural 
flowing shows that the blood of our dear Lord 
Jesus, as that of the true Paschal Lamb, retained 
its influence and power and virtue even after Christ's 
death ; that it should flow upon, sprinkle and mark 
the faithful standing by the cross ; and that Satan, 
death and sin should let alone all upon whom they 
find this mark, and not have power to hurt them. 
Such is the true nature, power and virtue of the 


blood of our clear Lord Jesus Christ, and such it 
forever remains in His Church even after His death. 

Besides the blood, however, water also came out 
of Christ's side. This, no doubt, was to serve as an 
indication that the blood of Christ would sprinkle 
only those who were baptized in His name. Our 
Lord Jesus Himself says : "He that believeth and 
is baptized shall be saved ; but he that believeth 
not shall be damned." Blood and water go to- 
gether. Where Christ's blood is and operates, 
there the water of blessed Baptism also is; but 
where the water does not flow, that is, where there 
is no holy Baptism, there the blood of Christ is 
also wanting, nor does it flow there nor sprinkle 
any one, as it is the case among the Turks and 
Jews and heathen. Evermore must blood and 
water flow on together, and neither be separated 
from the other. 

We must mark this well, for it has great value. 
It is not of great import for those who died under 
the Old Testament and who did not live to see 
Baptism ; for they had their own Baptism and 
were saved by faith in the blessed Seed. Nor is it 
so important on account of infants who die in their 
mother's womb before they can be brought to 
Baptism ; for their parents and the Christian assist- 
ants of those in travail bring to Christ the offering 
of fervent prayer in the hour of danger, and they 
are, without a doubt, accepted graciously. But the 
value of this token of mercy is our own, and we 
should not despise it and not prevent ourselves nor 
our families from accepting it. Where the water 
of this Baptism is, there too must be the blood of 
Christ, for water and blood come from His side 


together; and we have already seen the value of 
this blood, viz., it defends us against the destroying 
angel, cleanses us from sin, and causes us to live 
forever. The prophet, in such perfect harmony 
with the Evangelist, beautifully indicates this in 
Zech. 12, where he says : "I will pour upon the 
house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jeru- 
salem, the Spirit of grace and of supplications : and 
they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, 
and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth 
for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, 
as one that is in bitterness for his first-born." 

It cannot be denied, in the first place, that the 
prophet here speaks of the time of the JSTew Testa- 
ment and of the grace which should come upon us 
through the death of Christ. This grace, moreover, 
consists in God's pouring upon us "the Spirit of 
grace and of supplication," that is, God, through 
His Holy Spirit, brings comfort to our souls, so 
that we trust in His mercy and compassion through 
Christ, and call upon Him in every time of need, 
and seek help from Him, as children seek help from 
their father. 

In the second place, John here throws upon us 
the light of his true apostolic spirit, when he says 
that the piercing, of which the prophet proceeds to 
speak, was done on the occasion of the crucifixion. 
The prophet tells us what shall be the result of this 
piercing, in these words : a They," mark you, they 
who have the Spirit of grace and of supplications, 
— "They shall look upon me whom they have 
pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one 
mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitter- 
ness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his 


first-born. This mourning and this bitterness mean 
nothing else than the thorough recognition of the 
sins for whose sake Christ suffered on the cross. 
Our lcfoking upon Him who is pierced and our 
mourning for Him and our being sorrowful, indi- 
cates that He is innocent and that He suffered all 
for us. 

His suffering thus, however, causes us to perceive 
our danger and distress, to desist from carelessly 
participating with the world in sin, to deplore our 
sinful heart and wicked life, to ask God for forgive- 
ness, and to cling to the sufferings of Christ and 
console ourselves Avith them because He, being 
holy and obedient, did not deserve to die, but still 
took upon Himself and suffered death because He 
loved us so unspeakably. 

It is necessary for us that we should pity, mourn 
and lament in the way stated above, and it is neces- 
sary for Christ to have our sympathy, grief and 
tears, or else He can have no Christian Church. 
The Church alone, as Zechariah says, looks upon 
the wounded Christ and weeps for Him, but not 
like the women at Jerusalem, for they wept for 
Christ in such a way as to overlook themselves. 
The tears of the believers, of the Christian Church, 
flow because the sins are seen within them, for 
which Christ suffered death. Thus the prophet 
plainly points out to us the fruits of Christ's suffer- 
ings. And soon after, in the 13. chapter, he says : 
*'In that day there shall be a fountain opened to 
the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jeru- 
salem for sin and for uncleanness." 

How closely the prophet unites the spear- thrust 
and the fountain, that is, the blood and the water, 


or holy Baptism. Now, if we would interpret this 
narrative correctly, we must say : Blood flows from 
the Lord Jesus' side for the washing away and 
forgiveness of my sins. The Lord Himself* testifies 
to this when He takes the cup in the Holy Supper. 
But water also comes forth to show that His hody 
is an open fountain. But why is it such ? "For 
sin and for uncleanness." Baptism applies to us 
the hlood of our Lord Jesus, for which reason Paul 
expresses this by saying, we are baptized into 
Christ's death, that is, we are baptized that the 
death of Christ might be our own and for our good, 
so that, being delivered from siu and death, we 
might live forever. 

The holy fathers say some beautiful things about 
this. Augustine says that John uses the word 
"pierced," — "One of the soldiers with a spear pierced 
His side," — to show that the door of life was thus 
thrown open as it were, through which door came 
to us the holy Sacraments of the Church, without 
which Sacraments it is impossible to enter into that 
life which is the real life. He speaks of Sacraments, 
in the plural, because he refers not only to Baptism, 
which is represented by the water, but also to the 
Holy Supper, in which we drink Christ's blood. 
Chrysostom speaks after the same manner, saying : 
Whereas the sacred Mysteries here take their 
origin, thou must approach the holy Cup as if thou 
wast about to drink from the Lord Jesus' side. 

The Sacramentarians dare not quote this passage 
of Chrysostom, for they boast that the whole of the 
old Church believed as they do, viz., that in the 
Lord's Supper there are only bread and wine, and 
not the body and blood of Christ. Now, how does 


this boast harmonize with the words of Chrysostom? 
They surely cannot be so blind and frantic as to 
say that wine flowed from Christ's side, and yet 
they say that in the Holy Supper we do not drink 
the blood of Christ, but merely wine. They must 
admit, on the testimony of Chrysostom, who says, 
thou must approach the holy Cup as if thou wast 
about to drink from Christ's side, that the ancient 
Church discerned not only wine, but also blood, in 
the Sacrament of the altar. 

It is this flowing of both water and blood from 
Christ's side, that is said to have giveu rise to the 
custom of mixing the wine used in the Supper of 
the Lord with water. Cyprian vigorously defends 
this custom as a special ordinance of Christ, and 
the Armenians were condemned as heretics for not 
complying with it. Since Christ, however, did not 
command this to be done, and since the words of 
the institution tell us merely that Christ took the 
cup and gave it to His disciples, it is not necessary 
to hold this custom as essential. 

We therefore let this matter rest and confine 
ourselves to the doctrine taught us by the holy 
Evangelist, which is, that the blood of our dear 
Lord Jesus Christ shall forever retain its power and 
efficacy after Christ's death, and shall preserve us 
from death and sin, provided we are baptized with 
water as Christ commanded. In Baptism we find 
the blood of Christ in reality, even as blood and 
water flow together here. Where the blood is, 
there is the water also, and where the water is, 
there also is the blood, and it accomplishes its pur- 
pose, which is to wash away our sins and to make 
us perfectly clean, even as Zechariah says when he 


prophesies concerning the open fountain "for sin 
and for uncleanness." 

We should, therefore, thank God for the ineffable 
mercy and compassion, by which He has led us to 
this fountain, to be baptized in the name of His 
Son, and thus to be cleansed from our sins in the 
blood of Jesus Christ. We may now hope, through 
the Spirit of grace, to receive from God all good 
things, and can now call upon God in every hour 
of need, through the Spirit of supplications. And 
the final blessing of Christ's death shall come upon 
us in the end, when we leave this world of sorrows 
and enter life eternal. May God bestow this upon 
every one of us. Amen. 


Christ's Body Taken down from the Cross and 
Laid in a Tomb. — The Soldiers Guard the Tomb. 

Matt. 27, 57-66. When the even was come, there came a rich man 
of Arimathea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus disciple : 
he went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate com- 
manded the body *o be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the 
body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new 
tomb, which he had hewn out. in the rock : and he rolled a great 
stone to the dcor of the sepulchre, and departed. And theie was 
Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepul- 
chre. Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, 
the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, Sir, 
we remember that that deceiver said, while He was yet alive, After 
three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre 
be made sure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night, 
and steal Him away, and say unto the people, He is risen rom the 
dead : so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said 
unto them, Ye have a watch : go your way, make it as sure as ye 
can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, 
and setting a watch. 

e^jljlshe concluding events related in the history of 
f§H|| the sufferings of our Lord Jesus are His 
removal from the cross, His being laid in a new 
tomb, and the guarding of the tomb by the soldiers. 
And a most appropriate conclusion this is; for it 
shows how the death of our dear Lord Jesus influ- 
ences both His friends and His enemies. His ene- 
mies become uneasy and apprehensive, and they 
perceptibly sink deeper into sin. They, however, 
who honestly love the Lord Jesus, are made confident 
and bold by the death of Christ, notwithstanding 
their weakness and timidity, and now venture to 
do what before they would not have thought of 


doing. The death of our dear Lord Jesus has just 
the same effect on men in our day, as we shall soon 

The shameful death of Christ upon the cross was 
indeed a most severe offence. Hence His foes 
blaspheme Him to the utmost, while His disciples, 
who had been about Him, did not dare to show 
themselves, and had no other thought than that all 
was over with Him now. His mother, the dear 
Virgin Mary, stood there distressed and full of 
sorrow, and other women with her. low, although 
she closely kept in her heart the saying of the 
angel, and pondered the prophecies spoken by pious 
and holy people, such as the aged Simeon and 
Anna, a prophetess, when Jesus was yet a child, 
Luke 2, her affliction still overwhelmed her so and 
the offence so wounded her heart, that she could 
not speak. Thus the small assembly that had 
hitherto adhered to Christ and kept Him company 
is perfectly mute. The condemned malefactor is 
the only one who moves or speaks. Christ's 
enemies carry the day and are full of hope and 
gladness. The clamor made is all their own, the 
rest must hold their peace. 

The weakness and timidity of these pious people 
serves, as said above, to teach us not to be rash and 
not to place too much reliance in ourselves. If 
these almost lose sight of comfort and are swallowed 
up, as it were, by grief and misery, how much more 
shall not we be subject to such weakness when 
called upon to expose ourselves or to suffer for the 
Gospel's sake. How very necessary, therefore, that 
we should abide in the fear of God and pray for 
the Holy Spirit, that He may enlighten and comfort 


our hearts, and make us bold enough to dare and 
to bear something for the glory of God and for the 
sake of His Word. 

When the offence was at its very height, and 
when they who had been the best Christians and 
had fearlessly clung to the Lord Jesus began to 
falter and to shrink, and, on account of fear, sorrow 
and gloom, knew not what to do nor whither to go, 
the first to approach was Joseph of Arimathea, a 
city which is also called Arumah, Joshua 15 and 
Judges 9. Joseph was not a plain and common 
citizen, like the Apostles, who were simply common 
people, but he was a member of the council of 
Jerusalem and very rich. He it was who ventured 
to go to Pilate and beg for the dead body, that he 
might take it down from the cross and bury it. 
And then came also Xicodemus, who, although he 
loved the Lord and His Word, had been so timorous 
that he came to Him only by night. He brought 
about a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes, so 
that the Lord might not be buried meanly, but with 
honor. It was customary among the Jews, as John 
relates, because they had derived from the Word of 
God the hope of the resurrection and of everlasting- 
life, to give the bodies of the deceased a decent 
burial by preparing them with myrrh and aloes, so 
that they would not only be preserved for a long- 
time and decay slowly, but also that they would 
have an agreeable odor. 

Mark and Luke specially mention that Joseph 
was a disciple of Christ, that is, he attentively and 
approvingly heard Christ preach, and waited for 
the kingdom of God. We must carefully bear this 
in mind, for from this we learn what prompted him 


to have the boldness to go to Pilate, which was not 
a trifling matter. 

The chief priests and the entire council at Jeru- 
salem had accused the Lord Jesus as a perverter of 
the nation, as a deceiver and blasphemer, and on 
this accusation Pilate based his judgment. Now, 
Joseph, who had taken no part in any of the pro- 
ceedings against the Lord Jesus and did not want 
to be present at His trial, did a very dangerous 
thing when he sought Christ's body for a decent 
burial. He was thus likely to incur the fury of the 
whole council and of Pilate himself, who had con- 
demned the Lord, and he thus gave them to under- 
stand that in his opinion Christ had been a pious 
and a good Man, who had been wronged in the 
sight of God and the world. 

What moved him so boldly to expose himself? 
Only this, he was waiting for the kingdom of God. 
That is, he still believed that God's kingdom would 
not fail to come, and that Christ, although He had 
so miserably hung and died upon the cross, would 
be raised from the dead by God, and that He would 
accomplish and furnish everything necessary to 
fulfill the prophesies concerning the Messiah and 
his kingdom. If the centurion who stood over 
against Him and saw Christ die when He had cried 
with a loud voice, learned so much from various 
occurrences, such as the darkness and the earth- 
quake, that he openly confessed : "Truly this Man 
was the Son of God," how much more would not 
this Joseph and pious Nicodemus also have had 
such thoughts! Without a doubt, the preaching 
of the prophets, and the words of Christ which 
they had repeatedly heard and which they had 


now, through the admonition of the Holy Spirit, 
taken to heart for the first time, conveyed to them 
the hope that Christ had not been finally disposed 
of, but that God would establish His kingdom now 
when men least looked for it. Christ had, for 
instance, preached to Xicodemus a powerful sermon 
on this hope, telling him, John 3, that as the serpent 
was lifted up in the wilderness so He also would be 
lifted up on the cross. 

The Holy Spirit, at that time, kindled such 
thoughts in their weak and timid hearts, which 
soon influenced them so that Joseph goes to Pilate 
and asks for the body of Him whom Pilate had 
condemned as a disturber and blasphemer. Nico- 
demus brings myrrh and aloes, with which to give 
the Lord a costly and decent burial, as their testi- 
mony before all the world that they yet hoped that 
God's kingdom still would come, although defied 
by Jerusalem's haughtiest boast that Christ was 
gone and things would soon be changed. 

Such is the fruit of our dear Lord Jesus' death. 
The weakest and most diffident distinguish them- 
selves by boldly and fearlessly confessing Christ 
and by asking for His body, which hangs in the 
greatest disgrace, that they might bury it with the 
greatest honor. They thus testify that they, in 
spite of Jews, chief priests, Pilate, and all foes of 
Christ, regard and glorify Christ as the Son of 
God, hope for His kingdom, and find comfort in 
Him even now when He is dead and when every 
body thinks that He is gone forever- This is ex- 
actly as Mark and Luke say : Joseph "waited for 
the kingdom of God," that is, he hoped that God, 
through this Man, would found a new kingdom on 


the earth, forgive sins, and impart the Holy Spirit 
and eternal life. For, according to the prophets, 
the great, essential feature of- God's kingdom is, 
that Christ, or the Messiah, must establish it. 

Isaiah's prophecy concerning Christ, "A bruised 
reed shall He not break, and the smoking flax shall 
He not quench," is here fulfilled in the case of 
Joseph and ISTicodemus. Hitherto they were weak 
and timid Christians. They suffered much from 
their fear, which prevented them from making an 
open confession. It is for this reason that John 
speaks of JSTicodemus, who came to Jesus by night, 
as a secret disciple. Christ forgave them this fear, 
and did not cast them away on account of it. !N"ow, 
however, when the clanger is greatest and when 
they who usually were such strong and bold Chris- 
tians are overcome by the offence, and fear to let 
themselves be seen, the Holy Spirit, through the 
death of Christ, fans the smoking and nearly 
smothered flax until it makes a blaze as bright as 
the beautiful sun. What Joseph had so far been 
thinking and believing of Christ in secret, he now 
makes known to all, fearing neither the Jews nor 
Pilate. He cares more for Christ, who died in the 
deepest disgrace, than for all the world. Let us 
not regard this as insignificant, or as a mere result 
of Christ's sufferings. These things are written as 
examples for us all, that we should imitate Joseph 
and Nicodemus. When Christ hangs on the cross, 
that is, when the Gospel is persecuted and poor 
Christians are tortured for its sake, we should 
stand forth, and, not heeding the tyrant's wrath, 
glorify God's Son and His Word, and honor it by 
publicly confessing it until Christ who died shall 


appear in His glorious resurrection, when faint- 
hearted, timid, and fearful Christians also shall 
receive comfort and return to the confession. 

Such changes shall always occur in the Church. 
Some are offended and fall back, and generally the 
strongest grow weak when affliction comes, while 
the weakest advance and let their joyful confession 
be heard, so that there are always some who 
acknowledge and confess Christ. Whether it is 
unwillingness or inability that keeps the strong 
from doing this, on account of the offence, the very 
weakest, who make no display at all, must do it 
for them, and the former then learn and experience 
the utter nothingness of men when God removes 
His Spirit from them. God, as a rich House-holder, 
wants all kinds of servants in His house ; not only 
such as are strong and full grown, but also such a> 
are weak and small. That the strong may not 
despise the rest, they have occasion given them to 
see weakness in themselves ; and that no one may 
judge his fellow, God's Spirit comes upon the weak, 
admonishing, comforting and strengthening them 
in such measure that all must see and praise God's 
power in them. The sufferings of our dear Lord 
Jesus operate thus in His Church forever, in order 
that it may not go to ruin, but stand and grow and 

What, however, is the effect on those who hate 
the Lord Jesus, and who have no peace until they 
have crucified Him ? Just the reverse. The effect 
of Christ's death can be compared to the effect of 
the sun, which is different on different materials. 
Wax is softened and melted by the sun, while mud 
is made hard and drv. Pious hearts are made so 


cheerful and bold by the sufferings of Christ, that 
they venture to do what they would by no means 
have attempted while Christ yet lived. 

The godless Jews hurried Christ off to death in 
the hope that, when He should have been silenced, 
their cares would forever be gone. But when their 
malice was gratified in seeing that Christ had died 
upon the cross and was laid into a new tomb, they 
begin to be uneasy, and they all go to Pilate and 
say : 

"Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while 
He was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. 
Command therefore that the sepulchre be made 
sure until the third day, lest His disciples come by 
night, and steal Him away, and say unto the people, 
He is risen from the dead : so the last error shall be 
worse than the first." 

If we carefully notice these words we shall find 
what kind of hearts these people had. They re- 
membered Christ's sayings well enough and under- 
stood them too, but what fruit did His sayings 
bring forth in them ? Joseph and IsTicodemus, who, 
no doubt, also remembered these words and com- 
forted themselves with them at the time they were 
spoken, are now made courageous and joyful by 
them, and hope for every blessing. But these 
knaves grow restless, and begin to get scared at the 
dead Man, however natural it may otherwise be 
for men not to fear an enemy after they know him 
to be dead. The wicked Jews enjoy no such com- 
posure, but, as we see, they fear the departed Christ, 
who is lying in the tomb. 

Before Pilate they pretended that His disciples 
might steal Him away and say that He is risen ; 


but in their hearts the words of the Lord Jesus are 
such a pricking and piercing thorn that they anxi- 
ously ask themselves : What if they were true after 
all ? What if He should be the Messiah and rise 
again from the dead? What would become of us 
then? — This disturbs and disheartens them. But" 
they are none the better for these thoughts. They 
do not argue thus : Alas, what have we done ! Let 
us yet creep to the cross and not despise the excel- 
lent admonitions and miracles which came to light 
at His death. — No, they do not want to think in 
this way. They persist in that hatred and enmity 
with which they persecuted the Lord Jesus. They 
perceptibly grow worse and more wicked still. 
They devise all possible means and ways for annihi- 
lating the Lord Jesus and for diminishing His glory. 
This too was written as an example and warning 
for us, that, when we see similar things done by 
the enemies of the Word, we may not become 
frightened. God's inevitable rule is this : the longer 
a man willfully opposes the Word, the deeper he 
must sink into sin, and the longer he seeks rest, 
the greater shall grow his restlessness and fear. It 
was just so too in the case of the blood of the Lord 
Jesus, of which we heard above. The Jews thought 
it a very little thing that they nailed Christ to the 
cross and slew Him. In a deliberate, careless and 
trifling spirit they say : "His blood be on us, and 
on our children." They afterward found what a 
little thing it was, alas, for Jerusalem and the whole 
land to be ruined on account of this. Here the 
case is exactly as it was there. They thought : If 
only this Jesus were out of the way once, we should 
not be troubled any more. Now, in the 2. chapter 


of Acts it is written that Christ was "delivered by 
the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God" 
into the shameful death upon the cross. This only 
increased the fears of the Jews, so that they had 
less peace than before. The words of Christ, 
although they did not believe them, still lay in 
their hearts like a burning fire, or a gnawing worm. 
While they could not believe them, they still could 
not altogether set them aside. So it must always 
be with the foes of the Word. The more they 
seek peace by means of tyranny, the deeper they 
fall, not only into trouble, but also into sin. 

Although their plans may be laid in the greatest 
wisdom, they shall find in the end that they have 
only injured their cause, and aided the Gospel in 
spite of themselves, just as it was with the Jews. 
These demanded guards of Pilate, who should make 
the sepulchre sure until the third day. "Pilate 
said unto them, Ye have a watch : go your way, 
make it as sure as ye can." Matthew says, "They 
went and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the 
stone, and setting a watch." This they did to pre- 
vent the disciples from stealing the body of the 
Lord Jesus and from telling the people that Christ 
was risen from the dead. It was very wisely 
schemed, but how did it succeed ? Their very fears 
were realized. When, early on Easter morning, 
Christ had risen from the dead, and the angel 
descended from heaven and came to the sepulchre 
and rolled back the stone from the door, and a 
great earthquake came, the keepers did shake, and 
became as dead men. As soon as they had recov- 
ered from the shock, they gathered themselves up, 
one ran this way, another that, and came to Jeru- 


salem, where they told the chief priests all the 
things that were done. What, think you, must 
then have been the thoughts of these priests? How 
must their hearts not have quaked and trembled ! 
They could not look on it as a jest, for there stood 
their own witnesses, the soldiers of Pilate, whom 
Pilate himself had sent to guard the tomb. These 
not only told them, but also showed in their entire 
conduct, what had happened. So severe a fright as 
theirs had been, is not so easily concealed. The 
speech betrays it; the countenance shows it; the 
whole body is so affected by it, as to make it known. 
It is, therefore, easily seen that this message must 
have terribly frightened the chief priests and elders. 
Instead, however, of being bettered by this mes- 
sage, they only rushed deeper into sin and made 
their evil conscience worse. They held a council 
on that very Sabbath day, and gave much money 
to the soldiers that they might help them lie, and 
instructed them to say, "His disciples came by 
night, and stole Him away while we slept." In 
this way these poor fellows sought to console and 
help themselves. They believed in their hearts 
that Christ, whom fhey had delivered to die, 
though innocent, had risen from the dead. Each 
one can imagine for himself how this must have 
troubled them ; for, under such circumstances, their 
hearts could never have been calm. And yet, they 
gave much money to have their lies spread, and to 
have people persuaded to believe what they them- 
selves did not believe. They who thus willfully 
resist the truth, and adorn and comfort themselves 
with known falsehoods, are surely spiteful and 
desperate wretches. We should learn this, so that 


we may know how to look upon the foes of the 
Word. He who resists the truth, as has been said 
already, has only falsehood left to shield him. 

In the meanwhile our dear Lord Jesus comforts 
His few scattered followers, and shows Himself to 
them, and proves to them by very deed that He is 
not dead, but living, and living as the Conqueror of 
death forever. The lies of those who hate the 
Word only help so much the more to spread the 
tidings and to give them notoriety. Had the Jews 
not guarded the tomb themselves, the falsehood, 
that Christ's body had been stolen, would have 
been more plausible ; but it does not serve its pur- 
pose ; for the guards had been stationed around the 
tomb, and the door of the sepulchre had been care- 
fully sealed. The very fact of their fleeing suffi- 
ciently shows that a higher and greater power than 
that of Pilate and his guards was present. 

So it always is with the enemies of the Gospel. 
They must resort to base and blasphemous lies, 
which, however, do not harm the Word, but further 
it in spite of them. This should move every one to 
learn to know and to flee from lies, and to abide by 
the Word and by the truth. God be praised that 
some in our day have learned this, and that the 
Papists only advanced the cause of the Gospel with 
their lying and clamoring and scribbling ! Their 
lies are published in such clumsy shape that men 
are driven to the truth by them. The longer the 
enemies of the truth attack it, the more violent 
they become ; but the suffering of our dear Lord 
Jesus has brought it about that they must thus, 
against their will, further the truth.